Israel Folau’s camp has hit out against GoFundMe’s decision to shut down his online fundraising campaign but says several organisations are interested in helping to raise money for his case against Rugby Australia.
It comes as the Australian Christian Lobby has launched a new fundraising website for the former Wallabies star.
The group has also donated $100,000 to Folau’s cause to help with his legal defence.
“There is an outpouring of support for Israel Folau from the Australian community, who see Israel’s case as their case. They feel the pinch of political correctness, and the erosion of their basic freedoms,” Martyn Iles, ACL managing director, said in a statement today.
“The success of the Folau fundraiser was giving ‘quiet Australians’ a voice.”
“By launching an alternative fundraising site to GoFundMe today, we are ensuring that the voice of quiet Australians continues to be heard, and Israel Folau continues to know that he is not alone.”
Since launching today, the website has passed $1 million, including the $100,000 pledge from the ACL.
Folau launched his appeal for $3 million on Friday and had raised more than $750,000 within four days.
But the fundraising platform yesterday said it was pulling the campaign because it violated their terms of service, and that it was issuing full refunds to the more than 7000 donors.
“As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity,” GoFundMe Australia’s regional manager Nicola Britton said.
“While we welcome GoFundMe’s engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion.”
Folau wanted money to fund his legal battle against Rugby Australia, which terminated his $4 million contract in May after he posted a biblical passage on social media stating that hell awaited “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters” unless they repented.
A spokesman for Folau said the campaign was in line with GoFundMe’s terms and conditions, as well as all relevant rules and regulations.
“Unfortunately, GoFundMe has buckled to demands against the freedom of Australians to donate to his cause,” the spokesman said.
“There appears to be a continuing campaign of discrimination against Israel and his supporters.”
Several organisations have already expressed interest in supporting efforts to raise money for Folau’s legal case.
“Folau’s supporters will only be emboldened in their commitment by what has happened. They were concerned about their freedoms, and GoFundMe has yet again reminded them that their concerns are real,” Mr Iles said.
“Israel’s case is our case if we want to live free and embrace our beliefs without fear of being marginalised or discriminated against.”
The ACL has also confirmed all the funds donated to the new website will be placed into a legal trust account and used exclusively to pay legal expenses.
Folau has launched legal proceedings with the Fair Work Commission against Rugby Australia and is seeking up to $10 million in damages.
More than 95,000 people had signed an online petition calling on GoFundMe to take down Folau’s page, noting its purpose was against the website’s terms and conditions.