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Australian sports stars in disagreement after rugby union player Israel Folau comes out against same-sex marriage

The Independent logo The Independent 14/09/2017 Jack Austin
© Provided by Independent Print Limited

Australian rugby union star Israel Folau has come out in opposition against the legalisation of same-sex marriage on the day postal ballots were sent to voters, causing other high-profile sports stars to question publicly question his opinion.

All Australian citizens are legally required to participate in referendums with the country currently readying itself for a non-binding vote on whether same-sex marriage should be legalised.

But Folau, a devout Christian who was raised as a Mormon before converting to the Assemblies of God fellowship with his family in 2011, made his views on the topic clear on Wednesday.

“I love and respect people for who they are and their opinions, but personally I will not support gay marriage,” Folau said in a tweet which was subsequently ‘liked’ more than 7,000 times.

However, his opinion was challenged by a number of stop Australian sports stars, including his Wallabies teammate David Pocock, who tweeted he would be voting yes “for justice and love” – but didn’t mention Folau.

Folau’s employers, the Australian Rugby Union, have already committed to supporting the ‘yes’ campaign in support of same-sex marriage, along the with Football Federation Australia, Cricket Australia and the NRL.

Cricket star Shane Watson however did address Folau personally and tweeted “love should have no boundaries” along with an article about Folau from last month where he admitted he was ready to quit the Wallabies in order to be with his Kiwi fiancee, who was blocked from moving to Australia as it meant she would no longer be able to represent New Zealand at netball.

Welsh former rugby union star and the sport’s first openly gay active player Gareth Thomas condemned Folau’s views on the social media site, mocking the full-back’s tweet about loving and respecting all people.

He wrote: “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions, but personally...” before placing a middle-finger emoji to illustrate his disdain for Folau's stance.

All postal forms must be returned by 27th October with the poll closing on 7th November.

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