Gareth Thomas has hit back at Australian rugby union player Israel Folau after the sports star publicly declared his opposition to equal marriage this week.
Folau, a 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.
The Wallabies player, 28, tweeted on Wednesday (September 13): “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage.”
I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage.✌❤🙏
— Israel Folau (@IzzyFolau) September 13, 2017
Folau’s were quickly pounced upon by retired Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas, who became the world’s first openly gay professional rugby union player when he came out publicly in 2009.
Thomas – who opens up about his inspiring journey to acceptance in the new Attitude Heroes podcast, available to listen to now – made his feelings clear as he re-shared Folau’s tweet with his own followers and added a biting comment of his own.
“I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions, but personally , [middle finger emoji]” the 43-year-old wrote.
I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions, but personally , 🖕 https://t.co/aOvqjsPuLu
— Gareth Thomas (@gareththomas14) September 13, 2017
Thomas wasn’t the only rugby star to make a statement in response to Folau’s remarks, however.
— David Pocock (@pocockdavid) September 13, 2017
The result of Australia’s postal vote on marriage equality, which will see registered voters aged 18 and over answer the question ‘Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?’ is set to be announced on November 15.
Meanwhile, you can hear more from Gareth Thomas in the latest Attitude Heroes podcast, which sees the British sporting hero discuss growing up gay in rural Wales, his long struggle to accept his attraction to men, and the pressure he experienced when he publicly came out as gay.
The former Attitude cover star also reveals new details about his first sexual experiences and his early adventures on the gay scene.
“I remember going home and facing my Mum and Dad and obviously no one had known what I’d done and I literally felt like the dirtiest person alive,” he tells Attitude.
“I’d had all these feelings for so long, but I’d never acted on it so it was suppressed, but all of a sudden it had become a reality. And it was fucking really scary, like opening Pandora’s Box.
“I thought, “Fuck, what have I done, what have I started here?” And I fucking scrubbed, literally scrubbed myself.”