'Vindicated' Israel Folau calls for new religious freedom laws after RA settlement

By Peter Hanson 4 December 2019 14
'Vindicated' Israel Folau calls for new religious freedom laws after RA settlement

Israel Folau believes he has been "vindicated" after reaching an undisclosed settlement with Rugby Australia (RA) over his sacking and called for new federal laws on religious freedom.

The two parties reached a confidential agreement on Wednesday and issued corresponding apologies after an end to their legal dispute.

Folau was sacked by RA for what the body said was a "high-level breach" of its code after he posted hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" on Instagram. He had been warned over previous online posts in 2018.

A court-ordered mediation in Melbourne went on for two days, with Folau seeking 14million Australian dollars in lost wages and sponsorships.

Having agreed the settlement, which prevents the dispute from moving to a public trial, Folau posted a video on his official website alongside wife Maria.

"We are extremely pleased with the settlement reached today," he said. 

"With today's acknowledgment and apology from Rugby Australia we have been vindicated and can now move on with our lives to focus on our faith and our family. 

"Maria and I would like to thank God for his guidance and strength. Thank you to our supporters for our thoughts and prayers. 

"We started this journey on behalf of all people of faith to protect their rights of freedom of speech and religion. 

"We now look forward to the federal government enacting the legislation necessary to further protect these strengths and rights for all Australians."

Folau, who won 73 international caps, had claimed to have lost out on the chance to play at two World Cups and the opportunity to become Australia captain.

In a fresh controversy last month, Folau's comments linking bushfires that devasted Australia to gay marriage and abortion were slammed as "appallingly insensitive" by the nation's prime minister Scott Morrison.

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