Israel Folau sparked a heated Twitter debate on Wednesday after posting a message to explain he would not be supporting gay marriage in Australia.
A postal survey on the subject is to be held Down Under between September and November, with the Australian Rugby Union behind the ‘Yes’ campaign.
The side’s official Twitter account has been updated with a rainbow wallaby as its picture, while captain Michael Hooper has recently expressed his – and the team’s – support for gay marriage.
But that does seemingly not include full-back Folau, a devout Christian, who took to Twitter to make clear his stance.
“I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage,” he wrote.
I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage.???
— Israel Folau (@IzzyFolau) September 13, 2017
That post prompted hundreds of responses, many of which expressed disappointment in Folau’s view.
“If you love and respect “all” people, then let “all” people have the same rights to be married & be happy #MarriageEquality,” was one reply.
“You can’t say you love and respect people for who they are and in the same sentence say you don’t support gay marriage,” came another, while one response read: “What a disappointing use of your platform. Disgraceful. Way to contribute to the oppression of LGBTQ community.”
While there were plenty of replies disagreeing with Folau, the 28-year-old also received messages from a number of people defending his right to express his opinion.
“Hi Izzy – everyone’s free to hold + express a viewpoint on any issue. And that freedom is for everyone, regardless of their view. #feelfree,” wrote one user.
“That is your decision and you are entitled to it. Much respect for publicly stating something so personal. Champion!,” replied another.
“Good on you for speaking up for what you believe in such a calm and respectful way. Shame same can’t be said of all in response,” read a separate response.