Sporting legends, the Prime Minister and LGBTQI identities have hit back at Israel Folau’s sermon linking same-sex marriage and abortion to the recent deadly bushfires across NSW and Queensland.
Australian cricketer Megan Schutt, who married her partner Jess earlier this year, said the comments are the reason for high suicide rates amongst the LGBTQI community.
“This is why kids (and adults) still figuring themselves out, commit suicide,” she tweeted on Monday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also weighed in on Monday calling Folau’s comments “appallingly insensitive”.
“If people don’t have something sensible and helpful to say, can you just keep it to yourself,” he told reporters.
Sacked Wallabies player Folau said on Sunday in a 10-minute recorded sermon at the Truth of Jesus Christ Church Sydney that the bushfires that have claimed six lives and destroyed more than 303 homes are God’s punishment for marriage equality and the recent legalisation of abortion in NSW.
The 30-year-old lost his $4 million contract with Rugby Australia in April after publicly stating LGBTQI people will go to hell unless they repent. Folau has since tried to sue his former employers and attempted to raise money for legal fees using GoFundMe before the crowd funding site shut down the campaign for violating its terms of service.
“I’ve been looking around at the events that’s been happening in Australia, this past couple of weeks, with all the natural disasters, the bushfires and the droughts,” Folau said in his sermon on Sunday.
“The events that have happened here in Australia, in the last couple of years, God’s word says for a man and a woman to be together. They’ve come and changed this law.
“Abortion, it’s OK now to murder, kill infants, unborn children.”
As Folau read from the Book of Isaiah in the Bible, he said the recent disastrous weather was not a coincidence: “Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time. Do you think it’s a coincidence or not?
“God is speaking to you guys. Australia you need to repent and take these laws and turn it back to what is right.”
The comments have sparked outrage from both LGBTQI and non-LGBTQI communities.
New Zealand cricketer Mitchell McClenaghan called Folau a “muppet” while Glasgow Warriors coach Petrus du Plessis told him to “have a day off.”
Comedian Christian Hull said Folau doesn’t deserve time in our news feeds.
“We clearly know this isn’t the case and are just giving airtime to someone who thinks that the rapture is happening,” he told HuffPost Australia.
“His thoughts are outdated and ridiculous and reflect a tiny proportion of the population. The less we can talk about Folau the better.”
Even Folau’s sympathiser Alan Jones has had a go at the former football star telling him to “button up” on radio on Monday.
“Israel is a lovely human being, I know him well. Israel, button up,” Jones said.
“These comments don’t help.”
Leader of the Australian Greens Richard Di Natale said the “abhorrent outburst” is a convenient distraction from the real problem behind the fires - climate change.
“Our climate crisis fuelled by the burning of coal, oil and gas. And today it’s at the expense of LGBTIQ+ people, which is not ok,” he told HuffPost Australia.
“Trying to distract people by focusing on controversial commentary by former footie players only delays action to reduce carbon pollution, and puts both communities and firefighters at risk.”