Australia’s LGBTQ sporting inclusion program, Pride in Sport, has praised Rugby Australia’s “unwavering commitment” to inclusion after they reached a settlement with Israel Folau over his homophobic comments.
In a statement on Thursday, Pride in Sport National Program Manager Beau Newell said Rugby Australia had been “steadfast and resolute” in their handling of Folau, including their decision to sack him.
“Rugby Australia’s swift and decisive action in terminating Folau’s contract for his infraction was an unprecedented and bold step that demonstrated their belief that homophobic and transphobic discrimination is not acceptable in sport,” Newell said.
“This remains Rugby Australia’s strong position and we commend them for their unflagging charge in upholding the values of inclusion and diversity, and their continued efforts to making sport a fairer and more inclusive place for everyone.
“Moving forward, we can now reflect on this incident, which might help other sports handle similar issues should they arise and show the Australian community that sport can be an inclusive place for people with diverse backgrounds, sexualities and genders.”
Newell added there was a “sense of disappointment among many that an apology from Israel Folau to LGBTQ people has not been forthcoming”.
“We also note that his post remains on his social media feed. We understand people’s anger and share in their frustration,” Newell said.
“The views of Mr Folau on LGBTQ people do not reflect community standards and expectations, and remain at odds with most Australians. Such statements work against the significant progress on acceptance and inclusion that is being made by sporting codes, clubs and organisations across Australia, including the work carried out by Rugby Australia since partnering with Pride in Sport in 2016.
“Homophobia and transphobia have no place in sport, whether on or off the field.”
On Thursday, Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle defended Rugby Australia’s decision to terminate Folau’s contract and said rugby was an inclusive sport.
“We made the right decision in calling out Israel on his posts and inappropriate messaging,” she said.
“At the end of the day, we stood up for the values of Rugby Australia… We stuck to our values that inclusiveness is core to the key of rugby.”