Australia rugby team same-sex marriage spat
Members of the Australian national rugby union team have disagreed on Twitter over same-sex marriage as the country prepares to vote on the issue.
The spat came after 28-year-old player Israel Folau posted on Wednesday that he opposes same-sex marriage in a tweet liked almost 3,000 times.
The Wallabies player's comment was made the day after in Australia for a non-binding vote on legalising same-sex marriage.
Mr Folau's own teammates were among those to object to his views.
"I love and respect people for who they are and their opinions, but personally I will not support gay marriage," Mr Folau said. He is known to be a devout Christian, who was raised as Mormon and converted to the Assemblies of God fellowship with his family in 2011.
Skip Twitter post by @IzzyFolau
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
End of Twitter post by @IzzyFolau
Fellow player David Pocock, did not address Mr Folau directly, but disagreed. "I'll vote yes for justice and love," he tweeted.
Skip Twitter post by @pocockdavid
When my survey arrives I’ll #VoteYes for justice and love. #MarriageEquality— David Pocock (@pocockdavid) September 13, 2017
End of Twitter post by @pocockdavid
Mr Pocock, who is known for his activism on social issues including homophobia, also tweeted a quote by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Skip Twitter post 2 by @pocockdavid
In the words of one of my heroes, “my humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” #VoteYes #MarriageEquality pic.twitter.com/VPwuglbhl2— David Pocock (@pocockdavid) September 13, 2017
End of Twitter post 2 by @pocockdavid
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and captain Michael Hooper met with politicians earlier this week to show their support for the proposed legislation after other sporting organisations, including Australian Rugby Union, Cricket Australia and Football Federation Australia, also voiced their support for a Yes vote.
A poll released on Tuesday, and reported by Australian media, suggested that among those 'certain' to vote, 70% said they planned to vote yes.
Others weighed in on Mr Folau's tweet.
"Nobody is asking you to marry a man. A Yes vote shows respect for others who want the right to have their relationship treated equally," commented Deputy Lord Major of Sydney Kerryn Phelps.
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Twitter user @T_Beucher320 also criticised Mr Folau.
Skip Twitter post by @T_Buecher320
That's not love and respect. It's taking away the right of people to make their own decisions, whether you agree or not. https://t.co/Wvoj7ncAVP— Timothy Buecher (@T_Buecher320) September 13, 2017
End of Twitter post by @T_Buecher320
Journalist Karina Hogan wrote, "it is fundamentally disrespectful to think you have the right to decide how others live their lives."
However, some pointed out Mr Folau is entitled to his opinion.
Skip Twitter post by @ibchipper
While I disagree with your opinion and will be supporting gay marriage, I respect your right to share and thank you for it.— bchipper (@ibchipper) September 13, 2017
End of Twitter post by @ibchipper
"You shared this knowing you'd come under fierce attack. Much respect," tweeted Gelina Mont, who works for Catholic social network Xt3.com.
But one person wondered why people care what a sportsperson thinks.
"Why worry about what a rugby player thinks? Why is his opinion even relevant?" asked @cutthroatwok.