Australian rugby player Israel Folau was dismissed from his team after he posted an Instagram meme stating that hell awaits "homosexuals" as well as drunks, adulterers, thieves, liars, and more. Now noted homophobe Margaret Court has weighed in and said that Folau is being persecuted for his religious views.
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A 24-time Grand Slam winner who ruled the tennis court at the same time Billie Jean King's star was on the rise, Court became a Pentecostal minister and virulent marriage equality foe who's often claimed she's been persecuted because of her religious views.
Folau, who has not removed the offending Instagram post, requested a code of conduct hearing (set for May 4) about his dismissal despite having made similar antigay comments for which he was not censured.
Rugby Australia, the sports governing body there, said it dismissed Folau, who played for the Wallabies, because with his homophobic post he "had committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players' Code of Conduct warranting termination of his employment contract," according to the BBC.
Despite never having met the fullback, Court defended him during an interview with the radio station 3AW earlier this month.
"He just didn't say homosexuals, he said drug addicts and alcoholics ... the lying, the cheating, the murderers and the adulterers," Court pointed out in her defense of him, adding that he wasn't as "diplomatic" as he might have been.
"When you have an encounter with Christ you want the whole world to know it. I know that's what's happened to him. He really just wants people to come to Christ," Court said. "I don't think he should be penalized because really there's a truth there.
"We have to repent and turn away from some things if we want to know him.
"What he is saying about repenting is straight out of the Bible. My heart goes out to him because he's being persecuted."
Court vehemently opposed marriage equality, which was enacted in Australia in December of 2017 thanks to the majority of Australians overwhelmingly voting in favor of marriage for same-sex couples. At the time, she said she had been "persecuted" over her beliefs despite the litany of anti-LGBTQ remarks she's made for decades.
Prior to Australia's mail-in vote that Parliament took as a mandate to pass marriage equality, Court said that LGBTQ people "want marriage because they want to destroy it. There will be no Mother's Day, there will be no Father's Day, there will be no Easter, there will be no Christmas."
Following the vote, she chastised the Australian people, saying, "I think there will be a price to pay for it in the future in the nation and people will see it's not about marriage. There will be a genderless generation."