Former Wallabies player Israel Folau has filed a law suit against Rugby Australia following the recent termination of his contract.
Folau, who was sacked over a number of anti-LGBTI posts on his social media profiles, has said he’s taking the action in pursuit of his “right to religious freedom”, according to RNZ.
According to reports, Folau wants the Fair Work Commission to rule that his employment was terminated because of his religion.
In a statement that confirmed his case had been lodged, he said “no Australian of any faith should be fired for practising their religion”.
“Ours is an amazing country built on important principles, including freedom of religion,” he said.
“A nation made up of so many different faiths and cultural backgrounds will never be truly rich unless this freedom applies to all of us.”
Folau also confirmed that he had engaged commercial law firm Macpherson Kelley and a prominent industrial relations barrister to act for him in his dispute.
In May, Folau’s contract with Rugby Australia was terminated following a code of conduct hearing.
The three-member panel tasked with providing Rugby Australia with a recommendation on how to proceed – John West QC, Kate Eastman SC, and John Boultbee AM – ruled that Folau’s four-year contract, reportedly worth $4 million, should be severed as a result of his recent anti-LGBTI social media posts.
Chief Executive of Rugby Australia, Raelene Castle, confirmed that Rugby Australia had accepted the decision of the panel, but said the outcome was “a painful situation for the game”.
“Rugby Australia did not choose to be in this situation, but Rugby Australia’s position remains that Israel, through his actions, left us with no choice but to pursue this course of action,” she said.
In April, Folau posted on Twitter that Tasmania’s legal reforms for trans and gender diverse people were a sign that people should “REPENT and turn away from your evil ways”, drawing criticism from Rugby Australia’s major sponsor Qantas.
He later posted an image on Instagram which stated that “hell awaits” gay people, similar to the social media posts that landed him in hot water last year.