Israel Folau’s online campaign to raise money for his legal fight against Rugby Australia has been shut down.
GoFundMe Australia has taken down Folau’s page, which had raised more than $750,000 of a $3 million target, and will issue refunds to all of the more than 7000 donors.
“After a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded that this campaign violates our terms of service,” the company’s regional manager in Australia Nicola Britton said.
The company said it does not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion.
Israel Folau’s GoFundMe page has disappeared – amid reports it’s been shut down. pic.twitter.com/4YD6VwUgKu
— James O’Doherty (@jmodoh) June 24, 2019
“We are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity,” Ms Britton said.
Folau’s $4 million contract was terminated by Rugby Australia last month after he made a homophobic post on his Instagram page.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle condemned Folau’s public appeal for money on Saturday.
“From our perspective, [GoFundMe] is a place where sick children get support, so it’s certainly not a strategy we think is appropriate,” Castle said.
Folau said he was asking for support as Rugby Australia would be able to devote “significant resources” to fight him in court.
He posted a statement on the now-defunct GoFundMe page and social media fending off negative commentary.
View this post on Instagram
Thank you to all those who have given to my Legal Action Fund so far. I am humbled and overwhelmed by the support I have received, for which I am very grateful. Unsurprisingly, I have been criticised by Rugby Australia and some sections of the media overnight. I decided to take legal action when Rugby Australia terminated my employment contract and ended my playing career after I expressed my religious beliefs on social media. I have received thousands of messages from supporters who believe discrimination in the workplace is wrong and has no place in Australia or anywhere else. Sadly, Rugby Australia have said that they will devote significant resources to fight me in court. This shows I have a long and hard battle on my hands, which is why I am asking for your support. The money that is donated will be used to fund my legal battle, which could take years. While the attacks against me have shown I have a big fight on my hands, I will stand strong. Your support and my faith in Jesus Christ will give me strength. If you choose to donate, within your capacity, I would be very grateful of your support for my legal case. For those not in the position to donate, I value your prayers and messages of support so much. God bless!
A post shared by Israel Folau (@izzyfolau) on
“I decided to take legal action when Rugby Australia terminated my employment contract and ended my playing career after I expressed my religious beliefs on social media,” Folau said.
“I have received thousands of messages from supporters who believe discrimination in the workplace is wrong and has no place in Australia or anywhere else.”