Yesterday, GoFundMe Australia shut down Israel Folau’s controversial attempt to raise funds for his legal battle with Rugby Australia. Folau was asking people to donate $3 million so that he could “stand up for the word of God” and fight Rugby Australia’s decision to terminate his contract—a termination that came about as a result of him sharing homophobic posts on Instagram earlier this year.
GoFundMe Australia closed down the the fundraising campaign, flagging that it was in breach of the site’s terms of service. In response, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) opened a fundraiser of their own and donated $100,000 to help Folau, the ABC reports.
"There is an outpouring of support for Israel Folau from the Australian community, who see Israel's case as their case," said ACL managing director Martyn Iles. "They feel the pinch of political correctness and the erosion of their basic freedoms."
Martyn suggested that Folau’s supporters, who had thrown more than $750,000 behind the disgraced rugby player’s cause within just a few days of him launching the GoFundMe campaign, were concerned about a crackdown on their freedom of speech—and that the company’s actions yesterday "reminded them that their concerns are real." GoFundMe’s terms of service prohibit the use of the platform “for the legal defence of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, or gender identity or serious disabilities or diseases”.
In the less-than-24 hours since the ACL opened their fundraiser for Folau, donations have surpassed $400,000, NewsCorp reports. Martin has clarified that all funds raised will be deposited into a legal trust account “to be used exclusively for legal expenses incurred by Israel Folau”.
“The Australian Christian Lobby is thrilled to be able to help Israel Folau, who has not only lost his career, been banned for life, and been lied about, but has also had his fundraising support taken from him,” an ACL spokeswoman told the Daily Telegraph. "Along with most Australians, we continue to stand with him. GoFundMe’s decision has increased the outpouring of support for Israel Folau, with well over half the funds raised in four days being recouped in just eight hours through the ACL website.”
“Israel’s case is our case as Australians, because it goes to the heart of what it means to live freely, without persecution, even for those who refuse to bow to the gods of political correctness,” the spokeswoman added. “By launching an alternative fundraising site to GoFundMe, we are ensuring that the voice of quiet Australians continues to be heard and Israel Folau continues to know that he is not alone."
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