ISRAEL Folau’s online campaign to raise money for his legal fight against Rugby Australia has been shut down.
GoFundMe Australia has taken down Folau’s page – which had raised more than $750,000 of a $3 million target – and will issue refunds to all of the more than 7,000 donors.
“After a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded that this campaign violates our terms of service,” the company’s regional manager in Australia Nicola Britton said in a statement on Monday.
Ms Britton said GoFundMe was committed to the “fight for equality” for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity.
“While we welcome GoFundMes engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion,” she said.
“In the days since Mr Folau’s campaign launched, more than one million dollars have been donated to hundreds of other campaigns, large and small, across Australia. Those acts of kindness are the heart of GoFundMe.
“Our platform exists to help people help others. We look forward to helping more Australians fundraise for causes they care about in the coming months and years.”
Folau launched the campaign on Friday.
He asked for support to fund his legal battle against Rugby Australia, which terminated his $4 million contract in May after a post he made on social media was deemed homophobic. It followed a similar incident last year.
His April post on Instagram said: “WARNING Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolaters HELL AWAITS YOU Repent! Only Jesus Saves”.
Folau has launched legal proceedings with the Fair Work Commission against Rugby Australia and is seeking up to $10 million in damages.
The former Wallaby and committed Christian thanked donors over the weekend, and said he was “unsurprised” by criticism from RA and others over his decision to set up the page.
“The money that is donated will be used to fund my legal battle, which could take years. While the attacks against me have shown I have a big fight on my hands, I will stand strong,” Folau wrote on social media.
“Your support and my faith in Jesus Christ will give me strength.”
Meanwhile, two new GoFundMe pages have raised more than $24,500 for LGBTIQ+ groups to counter Folau’s campaign.