Pride in Sport respond to reports Israel Folau could play for NRL

Australia’s leading sports inclusion program Pride in Sport has responded to the news that a New South Wales team is eyeing Israel Folau for the National Rugby League.

The Illawarra Dragons have reportedly formally approached the NRL to consider their application to recruit the former Wallaby, who was sacked for posting anti-LGBTQIA+ views to his social media platforms in 2019.

Pride in Sport co-founder Andrew Purchas OAM said Folau’s views about LGBTQ people do not reflect the standards and expectations that exist in Australia today.

“His past statements about LGBTQ communities work in direct opposition to the significant progress on acceptance and inclusion that is being made by sporting codes, clubs and organisations across the country.

“If the St George Illawarra Dragons go down this path, there is an expectation that there will be a zero-tolerance policy on harassment and discrimination against LGBTQ people.

“Further, if Mr Folau’s appointment as a player eventuates, he must abide by NRL’s policies on diversity and inclusion, and we encourage the Dragons to have in place strategies that will ensure best practice deliverables around LGBTQ inclusion policy, education, visibility, and cultural safety.

“NRL is a code that prides itself as being a sport for everyone with strong values of diversity and inclusion.

“History has shown Mr Folau’s repeated failures to abide by sporting inclusion policies despite assurances.

“Sporting clubs must take a stand against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia when it happens and send a clear message to all Australians that discriminatory words and deeds will not be tolerated.”

Pride in Sport’s National Program Manager Beau Newells adds that statement’s like those Folau made in 2019 have a profound influence on the community, especially young people.

“We know that the words and actions of high-profile sports persons have enormous impact on our culture and far-reaching consequences.

“Derogatory and discriminatory remarks about LGBTQ people create division, take away people’s dignity and can contribute to people feeling marginalised, excluded, and inferior.”

“Australians know the importance of having a safe and inclusive sporting culture, no matter the code, and expect a zero-tolerance policy on harassment and discrimination. It is the right of every player, coach, volunteer, fan or spectator to be feel accepted, on and off the sporting field.

“Pride in Sport works with many of Australia’s most prominent sporting organisations, assisting them in their provision of a safe and inclusive environments for all people.

“We look forward to the opportunity to work with the Dragons, and any other sports, on all aspects of LGBTQ inclusion in sport.”

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