Mixed opinion on Israel Folau’s fundraiser page shut down
Thousands of people who donated money to help Israel Folau fund his legal fight against Rugby Australia will get their money back, after GoFundMe shut down his online campaign.
The former Wallaby star launched his appeal for $3 million and had raised more than $750,000 within four days.
But the fundraising platform said it was pulling the campaign and issuing full refunds to the more than 7000 donors.
“After a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded that this campaign violates our terms of service,” GoFundMe Australia’s regional manager Nicola Britton said in a statement.
“As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity. While we welcome GoFundMes engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion,” she said.
Folau wanted money to fund his legal battle against Rugby Australia, which terminated his $4 million contract in May after a post he made on social media was deemed homophobic.
The post, shared on Instagram in April, said: “WARNING Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolaters HELL AWAITS YOU Repent! Only Jesus Saves”.
Folau camp claims discrimination
Israel Folau’s camp has hit out against GoFundMe’s decision to shut down his online fund raising campaign, claiming there is a campaign of discrimination against the former Wallabies star and his followers.
A spokesman for Folau said the decision to cancel the campaign was very disappointing. The campaign was in line with GoFundMe’s terms and conditions, as well as all relevant rules and regulations, the spokesman said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, GoFundMe has buckled to demands against the freedom of Australians to donate to his cause,” the spokesman said.
Since launching the appeal, Folau and his supporters have come under “intense scrutiny in the media”, the spokesman said.
It’s believed Folau’s website was the target of a “sustained cyber attack” and there has been a “deliberate attempt to vilify” his wife Maria – who re-posted her husband’s online campaign – for supporting Folau.
ACNC could investigate the case
Folau launched his appeal for $3 million and had raised more than $2 million through Australian Christian Lobby website to support his unfair dismissal case against Ruby Australia.
Through a statement published on their website, Charity watchdog, Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission said they have received multiple requests to comment on the Australian Christian Lobby’s decision to support Israel Folau’s fundraising for legal costs.
However, they cannot comment on the circumstances of individual charities for now, but can investigate where there are concerns that a registered charity has breached the ACNC Act or our Governance Standards. This may include if a charity is not pursuing its charitable purpose, not operating in a not-for-profit manner, or giving private benefits to its members.
Australian Christian Lobby said that there is no breach of its charitable purposes in raising money for Israel Folau.
“The ACL’s charitable purposes include the advancement of the Christian religion and advocating for changes in law and public policy. It’s clear that Izzy’s case is a matter of both religious freedom and legal advocacy,” Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby Martyn Iles said.
However, ACL has decided to stop their campaign after donations topped $2 million in an ovewhelming scale and pace.
Australia crowdfunding commends Go Fund Me
Australia’s pioneering crowdfunding platform, My Cause, supported Go Fund Me for closing the fundraising page.
“It’s a policy that My Cause has held since it’s inception in 2006,” My Cause Managing director Tania Burstin said.
He added that hatred and bigotry has no place in society and he applauds competitors for taking a stand.
My Cause has been vocal in banning fundraisers linked to hate groups and messaging, recently banning outspoken politician Fraser Anning’s supporters, a group that do not meet mycause’s ethos and guidelines. In the past days, My Cause has shut down shut down 3 fundraising pages in support of Folau.