COMMENT

Izzy for real?

The legal war against Rugby Australia (RA) may be over but Israel Folau's delusion lives to fight another day.

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As the ex-Wallaby settled with his former employer for an undisclosed amount, bringing to an end a bitter feud that has dragged on for months, it remained staggeringly clear Folau just does not get it.

The 30-year-old was seeking $14 million in compensation from RA after the governing body tore up his contract for an Instagram post in April in which the dual-code international said "hell awaits" gay people.

Maria Folau holds hands with husband Israel Folau. Photo / Getty
Maria Folau holds hands with husband Israel Folau. Photo / Getty

Folau maintained he'd done nothing wrong by simply quoting the Bible and expressing his religious beliefs, while RA argued he had breached his code of conduct by vilifying gay people.

Since the scandal erupted many have tried to explain to Folau how his rhetoric was hurtful, how by telling gay people they're going to hell unless they repent for the "sin" of being gay, they might actually be offended.

Throughout this rollercoaster ride, Folau refused to budge. That the Instagram post is still up on his account is proof of that.

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In a joint statement released by Folau and RA today, one line stood out for its sheer incredulity.

"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," it said.

Hear that, everyone? This whole debacle was just a misunderstanding. It turns out, despite Folau calling homosexuality a sin, he doesn't actually discriminate against people based on their sexuality.

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In April 2018 when he said on Instagram God's plan for gay people was "hell"? Nope, no discrimination based on sexuality there.

And when he doubled down on the same medium earlier this year? Still no discrimination, apparently.

What about in June, when Folau took to the pulpit of his church to attack transgender people and declare once again homosexuality was a sin?

"(God is) talking about how the work of the sin, homosexuality, is in disguise to try and take over within this world," Folau said.

"They say that a man and a man should be allowed to get married and there's nothing wrong with that. This ties into the theme of pleasing man rather than pleasing God and standing up for the truth."

Just some friendly advice for us nonbelievers but, no, he's definitely not discriminating.

Israel Folau looks on as his Solicitor George Haros reads a statement outside Federal Court. Photo / Getty
Israel Folau looks on as his Solicitor George Haros reads a statement outside Federal Court. Photo / Getty

And how about last month, when the record tryscorer in Super Rugby said the devastating bushfires ravaging the country were God's way of punishing Australia for legalising same-sex marriage?

"Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time, do you think it's a coincidence?" Folau said. "God is speaking to you guys — Australia, you need to repent and take these laws and turn it back into what is right by God."

Nah, Folau isn't discriminating against gay people there either.

Folau repeatedly says he preaches messages from the Bible out of love. Nobody is doubting that. He simply doesn't understand how what he's doing can be considered hurtful to a minority that already faces more obstacles than a multi-millionaire athlete can possibly comprehend.

Folau's not trying to con us either when he says he doesn't condone discrimination based on sexuality — he genuinely believes it. No one who has tried to use logic and reason to convince Folau how damaging his comments are has been successful yet, so why would anything change now?

Both Folau and RA had to agree to some give-and-take today to get a deal over the line. It's why in their joint statement the governing body apologises to Folau for any hurt caused, and he does the same.

Surely, the line that Folau doesn't discriminate based on sexuality raised more than a few eyebrows in the mediation room but if it took that compromise to finally end months of feuding, then you can understand why it made the final cut.

Folau says he's preaching a message of love. But, if the people you're talking about feel attacked and judged, then your self-righteous mission to save souls falls apart pretty quick.

Folau's supporters will remain but if they seriously believe likening gay people to "adulterers" and "thieves" who are destined for hell isn't a form of discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, then their heads are buried as deep in the sand as his.

Because Israel, while you say you may not condone discrimination against people because of their sexuality, you sure as hell practise it.