GoFundMe today closed down Israel Folau’s page seeking donations to help fund his legal battle with Rugby Australia.
Before the removal of the page, donors pledged more than $760,000.
According to the terms and conditions on the website, users may not attempt to raise money “for the legal defence of … intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases”.
GoFundMe’s Australian Regional Manager Nicola Britton issued a statement.
“Today we will be closing Israel Folau’s campaign and issuing full refunds to all donors. After a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded that this campaign violates our terms of service.”
Ms Britton spoke of GoFundMe’s commitment “to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity.
“While we welcome GoFundMes engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion.
She said since the launch of Folau’s campaign donors gave more than one million dollars to hundreds of other campaigns, large and small, across Australia.
“Those acts of kindness are the heart of GoFundMe.
“Our platform exists to help people help others.
“Australians have shown themselves to be among the most kind and generous people in the world.
“We look forward to helping more Australians fundraise for causes they care about in the coming months and years.”
Martyn Iles on Sunrise
This morning, Sunrise host David Koch asked the Australian Christian Lobby’s Martyn Iles why Folau would need the money.
“I suppose a big issue is why does he need to raise money from other people? He is pretty well off himself. The core case could earn him $10 million. To use other people’s money to earn $10 million.”
“It could earn $10 million but it could also cost $3 million,” said Iles.
“Firstly, what is the point of the fundraising campaign? Is it for money?
“It is actually about creating a grassroots support network.
‘It’s more about PR for the case, it’s more about raising the profile of the case.
“People have been asking me for days before this happened how we could be a part of it. He has offered that. But also I will offer this — how much should it cost him? I mean, it’s cost him his job, it’s cost him his career. He’s banned for life.”
“Yeah, it could earn him $10 million,” said Koch.
Iles said if Folau made more than needed, it would go to an associated cause.
“He’s not going to keep the $3 million that people are giving him. That’s going straight into trust, and it can only be distributed for legal expenses, so it’s pretty secure,” said Iles.
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