The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has relaunched Israel Folau’s online fundraising campaign, pledging to donate $100,000 after his original page was deleted by crowdfunding website GoFundMe.
ACL managing director Martyn Iles tweeted a link to the page on Monday night saying he had spoken to Folau over the development, declaring “we fixed it”.
The sacked rugby star’s GoFundMe page had attracted more than $750,000 in donations to fund his legal fight against Rugby Australia when it was taken down for breaching the site’s terms and conditions,
“On behalf of the Australian Christian Lobby, I have spoken to Israel Folau to let him know that ACL will be donating $100,000 to his legal defence, because it’s right and it sets an important legal precedent,” Mr Iles wrote on the new page.
“I have also offered to host his online appeal for funds here on our website and he has accepted our offer,” he added.
“So, please give generously today to help Israel Folau stand for your religious freedom.”
By 12:40pm Tuesday morning, the new fundraiser had attracted more than $620,000.
The ACL page contains the text of Folau’s original GoFundMe post, which asks for money to help with his legal battle against Rugby Australia.
GoFundMe Australia on Monday said it will issue refunds to all of the more than 7000 donors who contributed to Folau’s original page.
“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.
GoFundMe 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
Folau’s $4 million contract was terminated by Rugby Australia last month after he made a homophobic post on his Instagram page.
The ACL campaign comes after Change.org director Sally Rugg criticised Folau ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night, saying the “disgusting” comments made her feel sick.
“The words that Folau uses about gay Australians — people like me — they exist in a context where the Morrison government is looking at whether people really care or not that religious schools can exclude LGBTI teachers and students,” she said.
A spokesman for Folau earlier said GoFundMe’s decision to cancel his campaign was disappointing.
“Unfortunately, GoFundMe has buckled to demands against the freedom of Australians to donate to his cause,” he said.
“There appears to be a continuing campaign of discrimination against Israel and his supporters.”
Folau’s team also alleged that the player’s GoFundMe site had been targeted by “a sustained cyber attack”.