Israel Folau: Sponsor backs sacking of rugby star over homophobic rants

The major sponsor of the Australian rugby team has backed the sacking of Israel Folau for homophobic comments a day after the player renewed his stance in a church sermon.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said Folau’s comments were “clearly inappropriate” and added “we’re happy with how Rugby Australia is progressing this”.

It comes a day after Folau used a sermon at his Sydney church to describe homosexuality as a sin and criticise young people being allowed to “change their gender”.

In a video posted to his church’s Facebook page, the former rugby union star claimed the devil was behind schoolchildren being allowed to decide if they wanted to change gender.

“They are allowing young kids in primary school, to be able to have the permission to change their gender if they want, by taking away the permission of their parents,” Folau said at the Truth of Jesus Christ Church in Kenthurst.

The former Wallaby star took aim at the government, equating it with the devil.

“Now they’re trying to take control as a government to make those decisions for young kids, basically that are 16 years old or younger, they don’t even know what they’re doing … this is what the devil’s trying to do to instil into this government, into this world, into society, and it’s slowly happening,” he said.

“The sad thing is why a lot of people out there that are non-Christians say bad things about the church, is because a lot of the churches allow those things to happen.

“They say that a man and a man should be able to be married and there is nothing wrong with it. This buys into the theme of pleasing man rather than pleasing God and standing up for the truth,” he added.

Folau’s contract with Rugby Australia, reported to be worth a seven-figure sum, was torn up last month after he refused to take down an Instagram post which quoted bible scripture and said “hell awaits” homosexuals and other sinners.

In the new video, Folau also criticised modern “westernised” churches and said true believers in Christ “profess him wherever we go”.

“Are we too scared because we might be cast out by our workplace or cast out of somewhere because we’re not liked or loved by those around us and don’t believe the same thing we do?” he asked.

The player, who is set to miss the Rugby World Cup in the autumn, has launched legal proceedings with the Fair Work Commission against Rugby Australia and wants up to £7.9m in damages.

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