Queensland MP Bob Katter has defended former rugby player Israel Folau and compared him to George Pell, after Folau said the bushfire crisis that has left six dead was God’s punishment for same-sex marriage and abortion.
In a bizarre Facebook post, Katter said Folau was “inspirational,” called the backlash against him a “witch hunt” and seemed to suggest both Folau and convicted child abuser George Pell are the victims of religious persecution.
“I may disagree with Folau on some elements of theology and fundamentalism, but the intense persecution that he has been suffering to me is just continuation of the religious persecution that is taking place against Christianity almost everywhere in Australia,” Katter wrote.
“From where I sit, I’ve always voted for freedom in a society that is overly restrictive and there is no doubt that religious freedom is under attack here. And whether you agree with his comment or you don’t, rest assured they will come after you.
“They managed to take out Pell and Hollingsworth, and now they are going after the most prominent spokesperson for the Evangelic [sic] church … Someone that puts moral convictions over his personal income, I find inspirational whether I agree with what he is saying or whether I don’t.”
Katter is no stranger to making controversial statements. In 2017, his response to a question about marriage equality which abruptly segued into a rant about crocodile attacks in northern Queensland went viral.
In a rambling speech on the eve of the legalisation of same-sex marriage, he said human beings are “genetically programmed” to be heterosexual, claimed the gay community is responsible for children being “injected with AIDS” and seemed to suggest gay people are more likely to become serial killers.
In 1989, he declared he “would walk to Bourke backwards if the poof population of north Queensland is any more than 0.001 per cent”. And in 1996, he opposed decriminalising homosexuality in Tasmania, warning against “clothing in legitimacy, acceptability and respectability behaviour on which, throughout most of history, almost every country in the world has had laws which have put some sort of sanction”.
Earlier this year, he also said being gay has become a “fashion statement” and claimed he had “never seen or heard of a homosexual person” until he was 50.