Top Rugby Star Battles Firing For Anti-Gay Posts, Gets Support From Tennis Legend Margaret Court [VIDEO]

Agence France-Presse reports:

Wallabies fullback Israel Folau on Wednesday formally challenged Rugby Australia’s decision to sack him over anti-gay social media posts, thrusting the sport into further turmoil ahead of the World Cup. The latest showdown with the devoutly religious 30-year-old — who last year was embroiled in a similar row — came after he posted on his Instagram account that “Hell awaits” homosexuals.

Rugby Australia responded last week by announcing its intention to terminate Folau’s multi-year, multi-million-dollar contract to play for the Wallabies and Super Rugby’s NSW Waratahs. After a fruitless meeting with the player on Friday, the governing body declared Folau in breach of the sport’s code of conduct and said he would be sacked unless he referred the case to a formal hearing, which he did on Wednesday.

Stuff New Zealand reports:

Beleaguered Wallabies star Israel Folau is being persecuted over his stand on Christian issues, Australian tennis legend Margaret Court says. Court, 76, Australia’s most successful tennis player, is a Christian minister, who like Folau has been outspoken in her opposition to same-sex marriage.

“I understand why Israel is doing this. You want everybody to know Christ and under it all there is a great love for your nation and you want people to know what you have received,” she said. “What he is saying about repenting is straight out of the Bible. My heart goes out to him because he’s being persecuted.”

The Guardian reports:

The panel will rule on whether Folau’s post breached the code. If it finds that it did, Folau may challenge in court whether that warrants the termination of his contract – and also whether the termination constituted discrimination against religious belief. However, a legal expert has warned this avenue may not be open to the player since NSW has no statutory protection for religious discrimination.

Amy Zhang, senior associate at Harmer’s Workplace Lawyers, said a broad range of employment law factors were raised by the Folau case, of which religious discrimination was one. Despite reports that Folau’s contract did not explicitly contain a clause about social media, under current employment law, a code of conduct can become part of a contract (known as incorporation).