The most recent public figure to fall afoul of the militant elements in the yes campaign in the same-sex marriage plebiscite is Australian Rugby Union star Israel Folau. He put out a respectful tweet stating that he loved and respected people for who they were but would not support gay marriage.
Of course the usual leftist trolls which infest twitter replied to his tweet to accuse him of being a horrible person and treating gay people as inferior.
There were also those who attacked his Christian faith which is the basis for his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
But if the yes side thought it was a good idea to label somebody like Israel Folau a homophobe then their abuse is seriously mislaid.
Just because somebody opposes same-sex marriage doesn’t make them a homophobe and Israel Folau has actively campaigned against homophobia in his sport of rugby union.
In 2014 he was an ambassador for the Bingham Cup which is an international gay Rugby union tournament that was being held in Australia that year. A spokesperson for the Bingham Cup said at the time “Israel is a strong advocate for ending all forms of discrimination in sport”.
He was also happy to appear on the cover of Australian gay magazine the Star Observer to promote the tournament.To their credit, the Star Observer acknowledged Folau’s previous activism when reporting his recent tweet, but not before a snide remark at him at the end of the article
When during a game between the ACT Brumbies and the NSW Waratahs Brumbies player Jacques Potgieter was alleged to have used homophobic slurs, in the aftermath Folau said there was no place for homophobia in rugby.
If Folau is a homophobe which is itself a loaded term designed to demonise people then there are a lot of people who have no problem socialising or working with gay people who would also be considered homophobes.
So even though Folau has gone out of his way and used his profile to help gay people feel included in Rugby, because he has a traditional view of marriage that all counts for nothing and he appears to be on par with a gay basher.
Of course, you don’t need to imagine if this is the type of abuse an ally like Folau receives what is dished out to others who question other areas of the LGBT agenda. It has been on display this whole plebiscite campaign. All of this over the top abuse of people during this plebiscite is turning a few people who would be allies in the opposite direction.
Of course, Israel Folau is an easy target for these people, it is much harder for these activists to take real homophobes such as Islamic State. “Yes” campaigners should just respectfully disagree with Folau’s view but still view him as an ally. The people who have directed this abuse at him need to think past their simplistic wooden view of this debate.
Tim Wilms is editor in chief of The Unshackled, where this piece also appears.
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