Labour MP and former Black Fern Louisa Wall says Israel Folau's comments on homosexuals being condemned to hell are dangerous for young LGBTI rugby fans.
The Wallabies star reinforced his comments on Monday that he originally posted on social media that gays are destined for hell unless they repent their sins.
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Wall told the Radio Sport Breakfast that Folau's comments were 'incredibly dangerous'.
"His comments are incredibly dangerous because essentially what he's saying if you're a young LGBTI person is that that identity is bad, it's wrong. And you should repent. Which is to denounce it. Because if you don't, you're going to suffer for the rest of your life," Wall told the Radio Sport Breakfast.
"Obviously in New Zealand we're 32 years now passed homosexual law reform. Just the other day we've expunged the historical convictions of about 1,000 men who were caught by laws that basically said 'if you were a young gay person, you were a criminal'.
"I think we live in this enlightened era where we accept everybody for who they are including their sexual orientation and identity. But the biggest issue for me is if you're a young LGBT person, we already know through research, you're four times more likely to self-harm and to attempt suicide. So when people like Israel Folau, with such a massive influence on society, he's got over 330,000 followers on his Instagram account, say what they do, it actually creates a really unsafe environment for our young people.
"Even though Israel said he was quoting from the Bible, I think what I'd ask him to do is to think about the influence that he has. Obviously the platform that he has to spread what he has to say and how negative that impact is on particularly young LGBTI people. If you're a minister and you say that in a church on a Sunday, you're preaching to the converted. He's not preaching to the converted he's preaching to a whole lot of people. A range of people who love rugby, who love Israel. That also includes young people who are incredibly vulnerable, they need their identity reinforced and they need to be supported through what is a harrowing journey if you're finding out you're a young gay person today and if role models like Israel Folau don't support our young people to be who they are then actually I think are suicide statistics highlight the issues we have as a society."
Australia Rugby CEO Raelene Castle yesterday said she was satisfied by a column in which Folau reiterated his religious convictions.
"In his article, Israel clearly articulated his religious beliefs and why his faith is important to him and has provided context behind his social media comment," Castle said in a statement on Tuesday.
"In his own words, Israel said that he did not intend to upset people intentionally or bring hurt to the game. We accept Israel's position.
"Rugby Australia will use the experience as an opportunity to remind all employees of their obligation to use social media in a respectful way."
Wall said Australia Rugby's stance made it seem Folau was a 'law into himself.
"They have compromised themselves and I think some of the sponsors are compromised as well. Many of those corporate giants now take inclusion and diversity really seriously and so all round I think the messages have been bad. It basically says Israel is a law into himself and he's really special and so we're not going to do what we should do which is adhere to our policies," she said.