‘No justification for harmful comments’

All Blacks scrumhalf TJ Perenara says he is ‘100% against’ Israel Folau’s comments on homosexuality.

When asked on Instagram about God’s plan for gays, Folau replied: ‘HELL… Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God’.

It promoted a fierce backlash, with the Wallabies back forced to meet with Rugby Australia to discuss the issue.

Folau explained his views on homosexuality in a lengthy article on Monday, in which he insisted he is not homophobic. However, that hasn’t prevented other players from speaking out against him.

On Tuesday, Chiefs scrumhalf Brad Weber tweeted: ‘Kinda sick of us players staying quiet on some of this stuff. I can’t stand that I have to play this game that I love with people, like Folau, who says what he’s saying.

‘My cousin and her partner, and my Aunty and her partner are some of the most kind, caring & loving people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. To think that I play against someone that says they’ll go to Hell for being gay disgusts me.’

Perenara joined Weber in condemning Folau’s comments in a series of tweets on Wednesday.

‘I’d like to add my voice to the conversation currently taking place. As professional rugby players, whether we like it or not, we are role models for a lot of young people. Notably, young Māori and Pasifika people.

‘You don’t need to look far to know that young Māori/PI are overrepresented in youth suicide statistics and, as I understand it, even more so when you look to those who are part of the Rainbow community. Comments that cause further harm cannot be tolerated.

‘Let it go on record that I am 100% against the comments that were made by Israel. It was not ok to say that. It’s not an attitude I want to see in the game I love. There is no justification for such harmful comments.

‘To anyone, young Māori/Pasifika people especially, who may be struggling with their identity – please know that it is ok to be you. You are perfect as you are. Do not let these comments keep you from being yourself. Polynesia has been sexually diverse since forever.’

Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

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Simon Borchardt