Words: Will Stroude
English rugby star Joe Marler had the best reponse to Israel Folau's latest anti-LGBT outburst after spamming the Australian player with images of gay kisses on social media.
Harlequins prop Marler, who represented England before announcing his retirement from international rugby last year, was quick to show his support for the LGBTQ community after Folau shared a post on Instagram on Wednesday (10 April) claiming "hell awaits" gay people.
In a series of tweets sent directly to Folau, Marler attached pictures and GIFs of men kssing, in a display of defiant humour which was praised by fellow players and LGBTQ fans alike.
Former England international star James Haskell replied on Twitter saying "This the best thing you have ever done", while BBC presenter Rav Wilding responded with a series of 'thumbs up' emojis.
Haskell also criticised Folau in a separate post on Twitter. Resharing the image Folau had posted to Instagram, he wrote: "This is the biggest load of shit I have ever read. Sport has no place for this crap.
"Keep it to hate groups Izzy Folau, you arent' spreading the lords word. You are spreading hate.
This is the biggest load of shit I have ever read. Sport has no place for this crap. Keep it to hate groups @IzzyFolau , you arent spreading the lords word. You are spreading hate.— James Haskell (@jameshaskell) April 11, 2019
You are an unreal player, but a fucking misinformed bigot. pic.twitter.com/ID4iEp1fkm
"You are an unreal player, but a fuckinh misinformed bigot."
Joe Marler's latest post aren't the first time the 28-year-old has riduculed Folau publicly for his abhorrent views.
Last November, the Sussex-born athlete shared a meme on Instagram showing a despondent-looking Folau next to the caption 'When he sees all the rainbow laces this weekend' - a reference to the campaign which has seen sports stars don Pride-patterned laces during matches to show solidarity with LGBTQ people in sport.
Meanwhile, Rugby Australia has announced it intends to sack Folau following his latest hateful remarks, after the Australian international player and evangelical Christian received a warning over similarly bigoted posts last year.
A statement issued by RA chief executive Raelene Castle and NSW Rugby Union CEO Andrew Hore on Thursday said: “Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Rugby Union have made repeated attempts to contact Israel both directly and via his representatives since 6.30pm on Wednesday, and at this point he had failed to communicate directly with either organisation.
“Whilst Israel is entitled to his religious beliefs, the way in which he has expressed these beliefs is inconsistent with the values of the sport. We want to make is clear that he does not speak for the game with his recent social media posts.
“Israel has failed to understand that the expectation of him as a Rugby Australia and NSW Waratahs employee is that he cannot share material on social media that condemns, vilifies or discriminates against people on the basis of their sexuality.
"Rugby is a sport that continuously works to unite people. We want everyone to feel safe and welcome in our game and no vilification based on race, gender, religion or sexuality is acceptable and no language that isolates, divides or insults people based on any of those factors can be tolerated.
An Instagram post declaring "hell awaits" gay people led to Folau's sacking by Rugby Australia on Thursday (11 April)
“As a code we have made it clear to Israel formally and repeatedly that and social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action.
“In the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract.”