Israel Folau Has Only Himself To Blame For Breaking The Workplace Rules

If you don't like your employer's rules, go work somewhere else.

That's pretty much the key message for Israel Folau, after a three-person independent panel ruled he had committed a high level breach of Rugby Australia's player code of conduct -- which means his contract may now be terminated.

Folau has only himself to blame if he is cast aside.

In 2018, when he first wrote that God's plan for homosexuals was "hell unless they repent of their sins", Rugby Australia told him in clear terms that it was unacceptable to say similar things again.

He resumed his career on his $1 million-per-year salary, fully aware of what he could and couldn't say, particularly with regards to homosexuality.

When Folau again said gays (and others) were bound for hell in his social media posts on April 10 this year, he was again held to account, just like any employee who flagrantly disobeys his employer.

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It's worth reading Rugby Australia's Inclusion Policy, which was drafted in 2014, to understand why Folau's comments were so offensive to his employers -- as well as to a broad section of both the churchgoing and atheist community.

Section 4.4 reads:

Rugby AU is committed to doing more to positively promote a culture of respect and inclusion for gay, lesbian and bisexual participants, rather than just challenging negative behaviours like homophobia and to break down the barriers which may operate to prevent participation in our game. With this Policy, Rugby AU is seeking to avoid any cultural attitudes or actions that may have developed within any aspect of our game which, while not necessarily being overt, might create an unwelcoming environment for gay, lesbian or bisexual participants and promote silence and invisibility.

And in its glossary of terms at the bottom of the policy, "Homophobia" is defined as:

The irrational fear or hatred of, or aversion to, people who are homosexual (gay or lesbian), or who are perceived to be homosexual. Homophobia can operate at a range of levels, including:

(1) institutional (policies or procedures that discriminate)

(2) interpersonal (through people’s actions and the way they treat other people) and;

(3) internalised (where a person feels ashamed of who they are and less worthy because they are gay or lesbian or same-sex attracted).

As Folau has fought to keep his job as an elite rugby player in the marathon three-day closed-doors hearing which finally ended on Tuesday night, his saga has been positioned by some as an issue around free speech and religious rights.

Nope. At its heart, it was about obeying the rules at work.

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Israel Folau leaves the third day of hearings over his Code of Conduct breach. May 7, 2019. Photo: AAP.

And in his case, those rules said that a welcoming environment had to be provided for gay and lesbian people so that they wouldn't feel ashamed and less worthy.

Israel Folau told gay people they were going to hell. It was the complete opposite of his employer's inclusion policy, and it was a foolish thing to publish.

In church, when you preach the opposite of official doctrine, you are ex-communicated. In the workplace, when you do so after being warned, you are given the flick.

End of story. Argue about religion or freedom-of-speech in your own time. That's not the point in this case and never has been.