Surprise Folau supporter emerges
Liberal MP Tim Wilson, who famously proposed to his husband in parliament while speaking on the same-sex marriage bill in 2017, has expressed his concern about how Rugby Australia is handling the Israel Folau saga.
Mr Wilson admitted he had not seen Folau's controversial Instagram post that stated "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" should "repent" because "Hell awaits", but still defended Folau.
Mr Wilson told the ABC what he had heard about Folau's publicly aired and controversial views did not cross a line.
"There is a need for people to be able to express their views on something like religion, and their religious beliefs, without censorship," Mr Wilson told the ABC.
"I don't know the details of the EBA or the contractual arrangements that sit between (Rugby Australia) and Israel Folau, but I would have thought that Rugby Australia should be very cautious in how they are conducting themselves.
"Rugby isn't just a game for people who are agnostic or atheist. In a free, pluralistic democracy, that should have space for everybody to express their opinion.
"Quoting the Bible or reciting a well established position around morality and private morality I don't think crosses that line," he said.
"I've always been a strong advocate for free speech I don't believe people should be harassed or intimidated
"But from what I have seen … it wouldn't have crossed that line," Mr Wilson said.
Wilson's view came on a day where Folau elected to challenge Rugby Australia's decision to terminate his contract and called for a Code of Conduct hearing to determine his future in the game.
Folau responded to the breach notice on Wednesday but the hearing may be held up due to the Easter public holidays.
The area in which he may get off the hook is reportedly in his contract.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Folau, who inked a $4 million four-year deal last year, refused to have additional clauses retrospectively inserted into the contract that covered his right to say what he wanted on social media, whether that was inside or outside the Rugby Australia inclusiveness guidelines.
RA believe they are still on safe ground, because they will argue the Wallaby star breached the standard player code of conduct by vilifying others because of their sexuality.
The Telegraph labelled the contract situation as a "bungle" which could leave RA facing action under workplace anti-discrimination requirements.
Folau's defence will be based around him being punished for expressing his religion's beliefs. The report says the lack of social media clauses are central to his defence.
The NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (Section 49ZT) states: "It is unlawful for a person, by a public act, to incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or group of persons on the ground of the homosexuality of the person or members of the group".
A spokeswoman for The Workplace Employment Lawyers said RA can argue that Folau breached his contract by going against legally correct direction RA gave him.
"'Free speech' in the workplace is qualified by employee's obligations under their contract. In this case, it appears that Folau was told about RA's policies and its expectations in relation to his conduct," she said.
"Given the history, and as Folau is a public figure, RA is likely to have grounds for taking disciplinary action which may include termination of his contract."
'CAN'T BE SPREADING HATE LIKE THAT'
While Folau found support from Wilson he was getting none from Wallabies vice-captain Will Genia.
Genia savaged Folau for his stand despite describing him as otherwise being a "nice, humble guy" when he is with the Wallabies.
Speaking on Fox Sports' Rugby Podcast Genia went to town on Folau.
"I firmly believe what he did was wrong and how he messaged it, put it out there was wrong," Genia said.
"You can't be out there spreading hate and telling people that they're going to go to hell.
"You can have your beliefs and have faith in what you want to have faith in but you can't go around trying to tell people they should be going to hell because they are a certain way.
"For me that's completely wrong."
Genia also said it was different to the man he knew when they are together in the Wallabies set-up, even though ever since he joined the Wallabies Folau has become increasingly religious.
"The Israel that I know, that I see every day when I've been in Wallabies environments and camps - he's a lovely guy," Genia said.
"He's very humble, very quiet, he's very giving of his time to his teammates, to people in general.
"So for him to come out and have said and done the things that he's done, it makes it pretty uncomfortable for a lot of people."