Israel Folau has announced that he is officially undertaking legal action against Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs over his termination as a result of breach of contract.

Rugby Australia terminated Folau’s contract in May citing a high-level breach of contract after he posted comments on social media saying homosexuals will go to “hell” and that legal right for trans people are a sign people should “repent and turn away from evil.

A hearing for Folau’s Federal Circuit Court case will take place on August 13 in Melbourne, after his appeal to the Fair Work Commission was unsuccessful, the ABC reported.

It comes as reports emerge that the rugby star’s cousin, Josiah Folau, left his position at St. Gregory’s College in Campbelltown after describing the Catholic Church as “the synagogue of Satan”.

Folau launched a GoFundMe campaign in June to fund his legal fees, with the crowdfunding website shutting it down and refunding donors.

The Australian Christian Lobby stepped up to host a campaign for Folau’s fight instead, with donations frozen after the fund reached an astonishing $2 million.

Folau posted on his website to tell supporters about the impending court proceedings, saying that the “conciliation before the Fair Work Commission did not resolve” the dispute between Folau and the sporting organisations.

“Accordingly, I am today commencing court proceedings against Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs,” Folau said.

“I have been blessed to have received the support of tens of thousands of Australians throughout my journey, and I want to say thank you to everyone who has offered their prayers and support.

“It has meant so much to [my wife] Maria and me over the last few months and gives us strength for the road ahead.”

Rugby Australia will argue that Folau’s termination was purely on the basis of his contract breach, the code of conduct in which states he must “treat everyone equally, fairly and with dignity regardless of … sexual orientation.”

Folau’s case is seen as a potential precedent for similar unfair dismissal cases with the courts set to weigh the importance of an employer’s right to enforce contracts against an employee’s freedom of religion.

Folau infamously appeared on the cover of the Star Observer in 2014 to promote the Bingham Cup, coinciding with our 35th anniversary issue.

More recently, Folau called homosexuality “sin” and claimed that the devil is to blame for trans youth in a sermon at a Sydney church.

Further reading:

Elevating voices from the margins: Elias Jashshan on Israel Folau and LGBTI cultural diversity

LGBTI Australians must prepare for a long battle against the erosion of our rights

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