After being fired for an Instagram post condemning homosexuality, Australian rugby player Israel Folau has reached a settlement with Rugby Australia.
Faithwire reported that he and Rugby Australia agreed on an undisclosed sum, but both parties released a joint statement to end the public, bitter lawsuit.
“While it was not Rugby Australia’s intention, Rugby Australia acknowledges and apologizes for any hurt or harm caused to the Folaus,” it said. “Similarly, Mr. Folau did not intend to hurt or harm the game of rugby and acknowledges and apologizes for any hurt or harm caused.
“Mr. Folau wants all Australians to know that he does not condone discrimination of any kind against any person on the grounds of their sexuality and that he shares Rugby Australia’s commitment to inclusiveness and diversity.”
As Christian Headlines previously reported, Folau’s lawsuit came after Rugby Australia terminated his four-year, four million dollar contract when an independent panel ruled his Instagram post breached his employment terms. The post warned “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters” to repent and turn to Jesus.
After the panel’s ruling, the rugby star fought back with a $10 million lawsuit—which later became $14 million—claiming discrimination for his beliefs.
The news sparked a wider discussion in Australia and internationally, becoming one of the most publicized religious freedom lawsuits in recent years. The Australian Christian Lobby set up a campaign in Folau’s name and raised over $2 million for his legal costs. During the trial, his website featured the question: “Do you believe in the right of Australians to practice their religion without fear of discrimination in the workplace?”
Folau and his family feel “vindicated” after the ruling.
“We are extremely pleased with the settlement reached today,” he said. “With today’s acknowledgment and apology by Rugby Australia, we have been vindicated and can now move on with our lives to focus on our faith and our family.” He also thanked God for His “guidance and strength” and supporters for their “thoughts and prayers.”
“We started this journey on behalf of all people of faith…to protect their rights of freedom of speech and religion,” he said. “We now look forward to the federal government enacting the legislation necessary to further protect and strengthen these rights for all Australians.”
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Shaun Botterill/Staff
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine. She blogs at mikaelamathews.com.