Brian Tamaki - head of the controversial Destiny Church - has tweeted his support for rugby star Israel Folau's stance on gay people going to hell, saying it's backed up by the Bible.

The Wallabies player has been under fire after he said on social media that God's plan was for gay people to go to hell, unless they repented of their sins.

Folau's comments have been denounced as hate speech that could put people's lives and mental health in danger - particularly young LGBTI rugby fans.

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But others have also defended the Australian rugby player's right to freedom of expression, particularly given his words were based on his religious beliefs. Folau and wife Maria are devout Christians.

Now Brian Tamaki, head of south Auckland's Destiny Church, has backed up Folau on Twitter.

He said hell was "a possibility for anyone who doesn't repent".

"Jesus didn't apologise for offending people when speaking Gods Word...If the Gay Community want to be accepted as a part of society then 'take it on the nose like the rest of us'," he wrote.

Last week, after Folau's comments first made headlines, Tamaki posted a picture on Twitter of him with the rugby star and wife Maria Folau, who is a Silver Fern.

"I remember having coffee with Israel n Maria..they were very encouraging to me at this time because of my stand for Christ..often in hostile circumstances," Tamaki wrote.

Tamaki has made no secret of his disdain for gay people in the past, calling them "a contamination" and blaming them for earthquakes. But he has also claimed he is not homophobic and has "many gay friends".

On Monday night Folau wrote a column explaining his comments, saying he did not mean to hurt anyone but was quoting from the Bible, specifically 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10.


That verse says that "neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor the drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God".

"I believe the Bible is the truth and sometimes the truth can be difficult to hear," he said.

Brian Tamaki's wife Hannah also joined the debate, tweeting the pair have gay family and friends who "know we love them".