Transgender netball coach reacts to Folau's social media posts

By Ruth Smith

Australian Rugby star Israel Folau has come under fire again following his anti-gay rant on social media.

Transgender co-coach of the New Zealand Invitational Open Men's team, Sarah-Michelle Hansen-Vaeau, says such dialogue has no place in the elite sports environment.

"I was really disappointed from a sporting perspective, [with] every national body aiming for inclusion and acceptance, that such a person with a big profile chose to share his views in such a public manner. 

"It kind of takes away from the awesome stuff that's happening around the world and in sporting bodies, of inclusion and diversity," she says.

The latest statements from the Australian fullback includes two posts, one on Twitter criticising Tasmania's decision to make gender optional on birth certificates, and another on Instragram, condemning minority groups to hell.


Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him. _______________ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these , adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19‭-‬21 KJV _______________ Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38 KJV _______________ And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Acts 17:30 KJV _______________

A post shared by Israel Folau (@izzyfolau) on Apr 10, 2019 at 1:18am PDT

The Invitational Open Men's side are set to make history in June, when they go head-to-head with the Silver Ferns in the build up to the Netball World Cup in Liverpool in July of this year, a huge step forward in inclusion and recognition for men in the sport.  

Hansen-Vaeau says Folau's recent Instagram post may have caused waves, with more than 12,000 likes, but she is heartened by those who have chosen to speak against the controversial star's comments.

"Although there's a bit of raru and people disagreeing with it on social media, the outpouring of love and support has outweighed those negatives," she says.

Meanwhile, Rugby Australia has released a statement labelling the former NRL and AFL star's comments as "unacceptable", with many calling for Rugby Australia's CEO, Raeleen Castle to take action. 

"It'll be interesting to see what Australian Rugby come out with, because it's not his first instance and I know that, in particular Australian Rugby have made a really strong stance with inclusion and diversity," says Hansen-Vaeau.