Australia's Israel Folau reacts during Rugby Championship Bledisloe Cup match against New Zealand in Sydney. (Photo by Saeed KHAN / AFP)
Australia's Israel Folau reacts during Rugby Championship Bledisloe Cup match against New Zealand in Sydney. (Photo by Saeed KHAN / AFP)

Folau should never wear green and gold again

Well, here we are again.

It seems it wasn't too long ago when I, and so many others, felt utterly disappointed in the condemning public messages of hate that one of our sporting superstars put out to an audience of thousands, maybe even millions.`

But almost a year later, despite the efforts of many to try and ensure it doesn't happen again, we are in the exact same place.

In a disgusting social media post yesterday, current Wallabies and NSW Waratahs star Israel Folau said "Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolators - HELL AWAITS YOU. Repent. Only Jesus Saves".

The post sparked a massive reaction from the public, mostly bad, and so it should. Rugby Australia have said the content in the post was "unacceptable" and their integrity unit was looking into it with Folau in danger of having his four-year contract torn up and in my opinion, so it should be.

Israel Folau of the Wallabies takes on the defence during the Bledisloe Cup test match between New Zealand All Blacks and Australian Wallabies at Nissan Stadium in Yokohama. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
Israel Folau of the Wallabies takes on the defence during the Bledisloe Cup test match between New Zealand All Blacks and Australian Wallabies at Nissan Stadium in Yokohama. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

To me, the biggest thing to remember when it comes to this is like it or not, our sports stars are probably our biggest role models for young people. Children watch their every move, on the field (or whatever their arena of choice is) and off it with social media having a bigger influence than ever before.

My question - how many youngsters, who may already have reservations about their sexuality, see this kind of hate message from someone with this kind of stature and as a result suppress their choice in life and then suffer from a loss of quality of life because of it?

We already know the kinds of problems that can come from this, including depression and suicide, which research shows people from the LGBTI community between the ages of 16 and 27 are five times more like to attempt suicide.

Israel Folau of the Wallabies is tackled during The Rugby Championship match between the Australian Wallabies and Argentina Pumas at Cbus Super Stadium. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Israel Folau of the Wallabies is tackled during The Rugby Championship match between the Australian Wallabies and Argentina Pumas at Cbus Super Stadium. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

And while as a country and a society we have taken steps forward in recent times including finally legalising gay marriage, it seems it's a case of one step forward and two steps back where this kinds of messages from people, who represent Australia, are acceptable.

And while people can have their opinions and beliefs, although I think hate messages to a certain group of people go beyond an opinion or belief, these types of messages should simply not be tolerated from people who represent our great country, whether it's in sports, politics or anything.

I admit, I have apersonal interest with hate against the LGBTI community as I have a brother in that very community. I saw first hand the pain he went through just to tell his own family about his sexuality, the people who are blood, who would support him no matter what - and that we did.

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

But how can we expect others who have made this specific decision in life, especially those who may be in a sporting environment, to feel comfortable to live in our communities free of prejudice and hate for the life they choose?

A stand has to be taken, and I implore Rugby Australia, who warned Folau that this would not be tolerated a year ago follow through on their warning and he never gets the opportunity to wear that coveted green and gold jersey again, unless a sincere public apology is made.

And I hope, that if the decision was made to axe Folau, that any other professional football code (you know who you are) doesn't pick up the scraps and sign him just based on his talent alone.

I would rather watch a team who embody the very emblem they wear on their chest go to battle at the Rugby World Cup than watch some who don't deserve the support of the fans.