Rugby Australia have reached a settlement with Israel Folau following the legal dispute after his sacking.
The former Wallabies star sued Rugby Australia for $14 million after having his contract terminated over his anti-gay social media posts in May.
After a 12-hour mediation hearing in Melbourne on Monday, the two parties reached a settlement with confidential terms on Wednesday, according to a joint statement.
RA said that Folau’s social media post reflected the player’s “genuinely held religious beliefs”. Folau “did not intend to harm or offend any person when he uploaded the post,” the statement read.
“Mr Folau wants all Australians to know that he does not condone discrimination of any kind against any person on the grounds of their sexuality,” the statement read.
“He shares Rugby Australia’s commitment to inclusiveness and diversity.”
Israel Folau’s social media posts condemned homosexuals to hell and described legal recognition of transgender Australians as “evil”.
Rugby Australia found Folau committed a “high-level breach” of the professional players’ code of conduct in May.
Folau claimed he was unlawfully dismissed on the basis of his religion, but Rugby Australia argued it was a contractual matter.
Rugby Australia and Israel Folau both apologise for ‘hurt and harm caused’
In the statement on Wednesday, RA said it “does not in any way” agree with the content of Israel Folau’s post and said they “wish each other well” for the future.
“Inclusiveness is one of rugby’s core values and it welcomes all people to the game, including all members of the LGBTI community,” it read.
“While it was not Rugby Australia’s intention, Rugby Australia acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused to the Folaus.
“Similarly, Mr Folau did not intend to hurt or harm the game of rugby and acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused.”
Neither party would comment further on the settlement’s terms because of its confidentiality, the statement read.
Responding to the news, Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown praised Rugby Australia for taking “standing by the principles of equality in the sport” by rejecting Folau’s “damaging and hurtful statements”.
She said the settlement showed Australia “doesn’t need” the Morrison government’s “unacceptable” Religious Discrimination Bill.
“[The bill] privileges the rights of some over others by overriding existing discrimination
“The new and radical provisions that roll back existing rights for all Australians under the guise of religious freedom are unacceptable.”
Folau ‘should apologise to the LGBTIQ community’
just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said Folau should “apologise to the LGBTI community for the harm he caused.”
“He should say sorry to the rugby community for the disruption he caused the sport, and he should refund the money he raised for his defence in court.”
Croome said the “poisoned legacy” of the long-running saga is the government’s religion bill, which “no one wants and no one supports.”
“The resolution of Israel Folau’s case is as good a time as any to ditch it,” he said.
After the social media posts, Israel Folau caused outrage with a sermon at his Sydney church linking the deadly bushfire crisis to same-sex marriage and abortion.
Last week, Folau upped his compensation claim against Rugby Australia from $10 million to $14 million in purported lost earnings.
He claimed in court documents the Wallabies would have performed better in the 2019 Rugby World Cup if he was playing.
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