Bring back free speech and tolerance

Israel Folau fell straight into a trap when he answered the question asking him what he thought was God’s plan for homosexuals. Taking the bible literally is neither fashionable nor socially acceptable, but that is exactly what Folau did. Good on him – he’s a brave man.Quote.

Australian rugby superstar Israel Folau could be prevented from entering New Zealand for his “bigotry against homosexuals”, a former immigration minister says.

The 29-year-old Wallabies fullback is facing intense criticism for a homophobic comment he made on social media platform Instagram.

When a user asked him: “What was gods (sic) plan for gay people”, Folau responded: “HELL… unless they repent of their sins and turn to god”.

Former immigration minister Tuariki Delamere, who now works as an immigration lawyer, said under New Zealand law border control officers should refuse Folau entry. End of quote.

Sporting legends Israel Folau and Maria Tutaia pre-wedding photo credit Sporting News

Delamere slams Folau with the accusation of bigotry and suggests NZ Immigration should refuse Folau entry into NZ.

What is Delamere afraid of? Does he think Folau’s beliefs, like mumps, are contagious? Does he think homosexuals will be offended? Does he believe Folau’s comment places homosexuals under attack and that they are incapable of defending themselves? What caused such a strong reaction?

The irony is that Delamere is the real bigot in this exchange due to his own intolerance.

Folau is fully entitled to express his personal opinion and Delamere is equally entitled to disagree. But, attempting to make a pariah out of Folau is, in my view, quite unacceptable.

Folau would not sit comfortably in a liberal church congregation including practising homosexuals, nonetheless, it’s possible that he respects the right of liberal Christians to their different viewpoint. Or not. It doesn’t really matter.

On a different media platform, for a longer discourse than Instagram allows, Folau could qualify his response to the question on homosexuality with other equally important biblical facts such as ‘God does not want anyone to perish’, or ‘He who is without sin should cast the first stone.’ But, counterbalancing biblical truths will never make it into print simply because they detract from the bigotry accusation.

In the final analysis, we all pass or fail based on how well we treat others, especially those with divergent views, as the biblical example of the well-known story of the Good Samaritan suggests.

The beauty of free speech means we are entitled to voice our personal beliefs.

It doesn’t mean we are obliged to agree with or make decisions based on other people’s beliefs, but maintaining respect for them is imperative to living in harmony.

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The subject evoked in the collage is the debating of political issues with friends in a public place

Pablo Picasso
Glass and bottle of Suze (after 18 November 1912)
pasted paper, gouache and charcoal

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