Australian rugby player Israel Folau says he refuses to change his mind on the matter of same-sex marriage after revealing his opposition to equality last month.
The devout Christian, who is currently planning his own wedding to New Zealand netball player Maria Tutaia, revealed that he was opposed to same-sex marriage the day after postal ballots were sent to voters in Australia for a non-binding vote on the issue of marriage equality.
Taking to Twitter to voice his opinion on the matter, Folau wrote: “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. But personally, I will not support gay marriage.”
Fellow players including retired Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas slammed Folau for his tweet, but now the 28-year-old athlete has spoken out once again.
The Wallabies player said he will “stand firm” on his opposition to equality.
He said: “I’m going to stand firm on what I’ve said; that’s what I believe in. I guess it doesn’t change anything for me and my mindset is still first hand with what’s going on here with the Wallabies.”
However, other members of the Wallabies team have expressed support for equal marriage, so Folau’s comments have put him at odds with other players including team captain Michael Hooper.
Speaking to the Canberra Times, Hooper said: “For a lot of guys, they’re about footy and our job is rugby, but sport has ability to cross boundaries.”
He adds: “We’re all very supportive of the ‘yes’ campaign and this is the approach we’ve taken.”
The rugby team has also changed its colours to the rainbow to show support for the ‘Yes’ vote.
The controversial poll has already divided the country’s national rugby team, as well as the country a whole.
Anti-gay marriage supporters held a Straight Lives Matter rally, though almost no one turned up. Meanwhile, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has been forced to apologise after one voter noticed an ‘offensive’ word on his friend’s postal vote barcode.
The result of Australia’s poll is set to be announced on November 15.