Israel Folau has launched legal action against Rugby Australia (RA) after his playing contract was terminated over an Instagram post quoting the Bible.
RA claimed the post – which said hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars” and others, and called them to repent – was a ‘high-level breach’ of its code of conduct.
Folau’s contract was terminated after an independent panel agreed with the governing body that the comments warranted his sacking rather than a fine or suspension.
Legal representatives for Folau have confirmed they have filed an application to the Australian Fair Work Commission.
They are seeking a declaration that his employment was unlawfully terminated because of his religion.
The RA decision was criticised in the New South Wales Parliament by state politician Mark Latham.
Mr Latham said: “The head of Rugby Australia is putting a commercial value on the religious freedom of Israel Folau”.
‘Freedom of religion’
In a statement Folau said: “Ours is an amazing country built on important principles, including freedom of religion.
“A nation made up of so many different faiths and cultural backgrounds will never be truly rich unless this freedom applies to all of us.”
He added: “No Australian of any faith should be fired for practising their religion.”
Religious liberty group the Australian Christian Lobby said the ruling against Folau was setting a “dangerous precedent for religious freedom in Australia”.
Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi described it as “extraordinary that quoting from the bestselling book in the history of the world is a breach of contract”.