Israel Folau Calls GoFundMe Decision 'Discrimination', Will Continue Legal Fight
Israel Folau called GoFundMe's decision to axe his fundraising campaign part of a "continuing campaign of discrimination".
Earlier on Monday, crowdfunding website GoFundMe deleted Folau's campaign -- looking to raise money for a legal battle against Rugby Australia -- after a "routine period of evaluation" found it violated its terms of service.
However, Folau's team denies this, and said it was in line with both the terms of service and "all relevant rules and regulations".
On Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for Folau said the former rugby star found the decision to nuke his $3 million fundraiser was "very disappointing".
"Unfortunately, GoFundMe has buckled to demands against the freedom of Australians to donate to his cause," the spokesperson said.
"There appears to be a continuing campaign of discrimination against Israel and his supporters.
"Israel Folau is very grateful to the 10,000-plus supporters who believed in good faith that their donations would contribute to his case against Rugby Australia.
"Since requesting public donations to help him with his legal action against Rugby Australia, Israel and his supporters have come under intense scrutiny in the media."
They also claim Folau's website has been the target of a sustained cyber-attack, and condemned backlash from Netball Australia and the wider community for criticising Folau's wife, Adelaide Thunderbirds star Maria Folau, for sharing her husband's fundraiser.
"While Israel does not intend to respond in detail at this time regarding the accusations thrown at him or his family, he wants it known that these attacks have hardened his resolve," the spokesperson said.
More than $760,000 had been raised for the former Wallaby to help pay for his legal battle against Rugby Australia, all of which will now be returned. Folau had his $4 million contract torn up after he breached his code of conduct by posting a graphic on social media claiming that gay people -- among a list of others -- would go to hell.
GoFundMe said it in a statement that was committed to LGBTI equality and inclusivity, and while it welcomes "diverse civil debate", it does not "tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion".
"Our platform exists to help people help others," it said.
"In the days since Mr Folau's campaign launched, more than one million dollars have been donated to hundreds of other campaigns ,large and small, across Australia. Those acts of kindness are the heart of GoFundMe."
Folau's spokesperson claimed there are several other organisations that have expressed support in taking over fundraising.
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