Rugby star Israel Folau has sued Rugby Australia and the Waratahs for unfair dismissal.
He is seeking a ten million dollar damages payout.
Rugby Australia tore up Folau’s contract last month for his Instagram post declaring “hell awaits” gay people.
Folau took his case to the Fair Work Commission on Thursday. His lawyers alleged Rugby Australia “unlawfully terminated” his employment “because of his religion.”
Folau’s legal team said it was unlawful to terminate employment on the basis of religion under section 772 of the Fair Work Act.
As a result, Folau wants “substantial remedies” from his former employers, they said in a statement.
Folau said he felt his treatment by bosses had left him no choice but to stand up for his beliefs.
“I will forever be grateful and proud to have played the sport I love for our nation,” he said.
“Ours is an amazing country built on important principles, including freedom of religion.”
But Folau said “messages of support” he’d received made him realise “many Australians feel their fundamental rights are being steadily eroded.”
“A nation made up of so many different faiths and cultural backgrounds will never be truly rich unless this freedom applies to all of us,” he said.
“No Australian of any faith should be fired for practising their religion.”
‘Israel Folau left us with no choice’
In the Instagram post in April, Israel Folau claimed all drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, thieves and others were going to hell.
In a separate post, Folau suggested transgender birth certificate laws were “evil”.
A panel found Israel Folau committed a “high-level” breach of Rugby Australia’s player code of conduct.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said at the time Folau left them with no other option.
“We want to stress that this outcome is a painful situation for the game,” Castle said.
“But Rugby Australia’s position remains that Israel Folau, through his actions, left us with no choice but to pursue this course of action.
She said the message to rugby fans was that we need to stand by their values of inclusion and respect.
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