PM defends Folau’s right to religious freedom

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison is vowing to bring in new laws to protect religious people after rugby star Israel Folau was sacked for sharing a message from the Bible.

Morrison says he wants to make a bipartisan deal to bring in the new laws.

When asked if he thinks Folau has been persecuted for his beliefs, Morrison dodged the question.

Instead, he focused on the broader issue, saying people should not feel intimidated about practising their religion in peace.

He says he doesn’t want religion in Australia to be an issue of conflict.

“The whole point of religion is that it’s actually something of peace,” he says.

“It’s a very important part of Australians’ lives and I want to see us progress this debate in a very constructive way, not based on conflict.”

Morrison, who is an evangelical Christian, says Folau’s situation shows the need for legislation protecting people against discrimination based on their religious beliefs.

“Religious freedom is one of the cornerstones of what we are as a country, and it’s important our laws reflect that,” he says.

He says now there’s a commitment to put a Religious Discrimination Act in place, and it will happen.

“We’re going to do that. We’re working very hard on that right now,’ he says.

In April 2018 when he was the treasurer, Morrison publicly backed Folau, praising him when he was criticised over an Instagram comment that was deemed homophobic.

On that occasion, an Instagram user had asked Folau about God’s plan for gay people.

Folau replied: “HELL…Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”

On that occasion, Rugby Australia did not sanction the player.

“It clearly means a lot to Izzy and good for him for standing up for his faith,” Morrison said at the time.

“He wouldn’t have wanted to intend to have offended or hurt anyone because that’s very much against the faith that he feels so passionately about.

“But I think he’s shown a lot of strength of character in just standing up for what he believes in and I think that’s what this country is all about.”

Folau is currently suing Rugby Australia for $10million.


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