Israel Folau is the & # 39; face of freedom & # 39; in an increasingly bitter cultural war that could last for years and probably end up in the Supreme Court.
Rugby star supporters have seized his controversial looting as a defining issue of freedom of expression and religious expression in Australia – and even compared it to the decades-long struggle of Eddie Mabo to recognize the Aboriginal fundamental rights.
Crowdfunding for Falou's legal combat fund is rapidly heading toward the $ 3 million goal after the one-off Wallaby & # 39; s GoFundMe page caused a huge setback.
Some of the pious Christian's donors are a prelude to a legal and media campaign that will last for years – and will leave a decisive mark on Australian society.
High Court bound? Legal experts – including the former head of the Australian Human Rights Commission – have suggested that the case of Israel Folau could go to the Supreme Court
Influential broadcaster Alan Jones (left) read a letter from an & # 39; ex-rugby international & # 39; who compared Folau & # 39; s legal battle with Mabo & # 39; s. The Australian Christian Lobby campaign for Folau (right) is well on its way to raise $ 3 million
Folau debates his resignation from Rugby Australia for posts on Instagram that say "Hell awaits" homosexuals violate his freedom of religious expression. But his opponents say he has violated an employment contract and is an & # 39; elite … punching & # 39; in vulnerable LGBTI children.
Any lawsuit would challenge the right of companies and organizations to limit the speech of their Australian employees.
Folau backer Alan Jones read out a letter in the air today from a former rugby player comparing Folau's fight with that of Mabo, who won land rights for Aboriginal Australians in a landmark in the Supreme Court in 1992.
Jones & # 39; s unnamed letter writer suggested that the Folau case could drag Mabo & # 39; s for so long and also end in a historic statement about religious expression and freedom of expression.
& # 39; I don't think you can regard this lawsuit as a normal one, & # 39; said the unnamed rugby. & # 39; It is a monumental event with enormous consequences for our society.
& # 39; And with so many people affected by the outcome, I think it's reasonable that not all costs are counted on one person.
& # 39; The most famous historical decision was made by Eddie Mabo, with a case that lasted ten years.
Landmark landmark: Eddie Mabo & # 39; s victory over the mammoth court – overthrowing terra nullius – is simply incomparable in Australian history
Maria Folau has also taken over the sponsors' ire for the re-posting of her husband's GoFundMe link
HOW EDDIE MABO HAS FINANCED HIS DECADE LONG HIGH COURT?
Eddie Mabo led a decades-long pursuit of legal rights and won
In 1992, the Supreme Court recognized that native Australians had been living on the continent for thousands of years.
The historic judgment destroyed the legal principle of & # 39; terra nullius & # 39; – the concept of Australia was & # 39; no man's land & # 39; at the time of the British settlement.
The decision finally confirmed the connection of the native Australians with the country and led to the implementation of the Native Title Act in 1993.
But the decision was only made thanks to the efforts of Mabo, his supporters and a team of lawyers.
The financial pressure was huge, according to historical documents.
The team received a Grant Commonwealth of $ 50,000 just before the procedure was started.
But since the case continued for a decade, Mabo and lawyers had to draw on their own resources to continue.
Greg McIntyre, the lawyer transporting the case, said in a history that Mr. Mabo & as far as I could tell & # 39; lived on nothing.
& # 39; (Eddie) often traveled with his own money, out of retirement or whatever limited resources he had, & # 39; he said.
The Attorney General's department paid a hotel for a number of witnesses in 1989, but & # 39; it was pretty limited & # 39 ;, McIntyre said.
Mabo attended only the last hearing by the & # 39; benevolence or help of various family and friends & # 39 ;.
& # 39; He probably didn't pay a cent and people didn't fight it because he advocated a principle that deserved financial support. & # 39;
Mr Mabo's legal proceedings began in May 1982 and the High Court did not make its final decision until June 1992 after referral to the Supreme Court of Queensland.
Mr. Mabo was unemployed throughout most of the & # 39; 80, according to Bryan Keon-Cohen, his junior adviser in the case.
He left his job to meet legal requirements and lived alongside & # 39; nothing & # 39 ;.
The case was funded by a grant of 50,000 British Commonwealth, from Mr. Mabo's retirement and the pockets of his lawyers, according to a history.
Folau, a very paid sportswoman for a long time, criticizes his seven-digit plea for help.
Some lawyers said that Folau & # 39; s case could be conducted for a tenth of its crowdfunding purpose.
& # 39; I think the $ 3 million idea for his case is ridiculous & # 39 ;, workplace lawyer Josh Bornstein told the ABC & # 39; s 7.30 program.
& # 39; That case could be conducted for a fraction of that amount and could be carried out very effectively. I estimate maybe $ 300,000. & # 39;
Nobody knows how far the case will disappear, but Gillian Triggs, the former head of the Australian Human Rights Commission, said it is likely to face higher judges and possibly the Supreme Court.
& # 39; I certainly think it is more than arguable that employers should not override the basic common law principles, and in the case of the right to freedom of religious expression, an explicitly protected constitutional right, & # 39; Prof. Triggs told the ABC.
& # 39; The question, and to try to answer it, the court is going to say, & # 39; is it an unreasonable position to punish him for placing that opinion in the public arena? & # 39;
& # 39; My own opinion, and it is a purely personal opinion, he must have the right to express his opinion. Like I said, it's a very broad view, it includes many of us, "we're all going to hell."
& # 39; I find it really foolish and disproportionate to prevent him from preaching anything that he really believes deeply as a matter of religious expression. & # 39;
But the court may go the other way, she said, because the law explicitly protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The cultural war continues
Peter Kurti, a senior research assistant at the Center for Independent Studies, said there is little doubt that the public debate will continue.
After all, Folau is a & # 39; disciplined, competitive athlete & # 39; and his opponents are also determined, Mr. Kurti claimed.
& # 39; The determination of those two groups of people to pursue this, even if court costs increase, even if the divisions become more deeply rooted, show that we have really reached a point of fundamental importance here & # 39 ;, he said .
Mr Kurti claimed that the Folau case is a turning point for Australians. He said that the question is whether Australians reject & # 39; orthodoxy where no divergent opinion is brought in, or are we going to force back and say & # 39; this is unAustralian? & # 39;
Peter Kurti, a senior research assistant at the Center for Independent Studies, claims a progressive elite who does not tolerate that dissidence has caused the backlash to Rugby Australia, its sponsors and GoFundMe
The researcher argued that there is an elite group in the media, business and arts who & # 39; not only want acceptance, they want approval, they want confirmation, they do not tolerate divergent opinions. & # 39;
But Rodney Croome, a spokesperson for just.equal, refuted that vision: & # 39; I have heard that Israel Folau is somehow the victim of & # 39; elite progressive intolerance & # 39; but in reality he is a millionaire member of the elite who poses with some. of the vulnerable members of the Australian community, including young gay and transgender people. & # 39;
Folau should think about the impact that a lengthy legal battle will have on LGBTI people, & said Mr. Croome. & # 39; Every Australian, including Israel Folau, has a fundamental right to their day in the courtroom. & # 39;
& # 39; But I urge him to think about what it will be like for those young, vulnerable LGBTI people who will have to endure another long, painful public debate about their lives and rights so soon after the survey. & # 39;
There is little doubt about Folau and the Australian Christian Lobby will have the money to run a major public campaign.
From Wednesday evening, Folau & # 39; s war chest had collected nearly $ 2 million.
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