Openly gay athlete Simon Dunn has clapped back at rugby star Israel Folau with a sweet photo of him kissing his partner on the footy field.
The Australian-born former bobsledder shared a photo of himself kissing his boyfriend Felix after a rugby match victory. The couple play together on inclusive London team the Kings Cross Steelers.
Dunn initially posted the photo on Sunday but retweeted the image on Monday, this time tagging Folau and encouraging everyone to retweet it as a response to Israel Folau’s comment earlier this month that gay people were destined for “hell” unless they “repented for their sins”.
“Unfortunately the sporting world is still a place where kissing my partner after our team’s victory is still seen as an act of defiance or rebellion,” Dunn told Gay Times.
“It’s an environment where someone’s homophobic comments can be defended as ‘just his opinion’ and that truly is worrying.
“I’ve devoted my life to sport, and as an out and proud athlete I’ll continue to do what is natural for me and hopefully break down stereotypes in the process.”
He said he was pleased to see the attention the photo got.
“I’ve received just as much hate (if not more) as I have support for this picture, which only shows me we have a lot of work to do before homophobia in sport is a thing of the past,” he said.
Dunn joined the Australian bobsledding team in 2014, becoming the first openly gay man to do so. He announced his retirement from the sport and his return to rugby in 2016.
Victory kiss. pic.twitter.com/REvhoUN2bX
— Simon Dunn (@BySimonDunn) April 22, 2018
— Simon Dunn (@BySimonDunn) April 23, 2018
This month, Folau dodged Rugby Australia sanctions for his statement, and the rugby star doubled down by saying he had “no phobia against anyone” but would give up his career before backing down on his beliefs.
Xavier Goldie, the president of the inclusive rugby team and current Bingham Cup holders the Melbourne Chargers, recently invited Folau to attend one of their training sessions in a bid to help him understand why his comments were hurtful.
“In the past, Rugby Australia has been a leader on standing up for diversity and inclusion in the sport, including gay people,” he said.
“We are disappointed they didn’t take action in response to Folau’s harmful comments.
“Penalising him wasn’t their only option, they also could have asked him to meet with gay rugby players to hear why his comments are so incredibly harmful.”