FORMER Australian Human Rights Commission head Gillian Triggs said the attacks on Israel and Maria Folau are 'vicious' and says the public deserves clarity on religious rights. She also took aim at 'bullying' spnosors. READ MORE.

Ms Triggs said it was unacceptable that Maria Folau's employers had been contacted by "bullying" sponsors who expressed their concern that the athlete had shared a link to her husband's fundraiser.

Professor Gillian Triggs believes Israel Folau’s case needs to be tested in the court. Picture: Gary Ramage
Professor Gillian Triggs believes Israel Folau’s case needs to be tested in the court. Picture: Gary Ramage

"When it comes to Maria Folau, it concerns me it is part of what we see in a great deal of public bullying," Ms Triggs said.

"It's a very complex issue but we have growing levels of bullying, particularly against women, and there are more examples of this happening.

"Once a woman is in any kind of public role there is a tendency to take her down. Whether she is a sporting person or a political person, there is a growing voice bullying those women, hoping they will be denigrated."

Netball sponsors on Wednesday contacted Maria's employers, including ANZ, HCF and Mazda, back-pedalled from earlier statements.

Netball sponsors had contacted Maria Folau’s employers after she shared the link. Picture: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images
Netball sponsors had contacted Maria Folau’s employers after she shared the link. Picture: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

 

More than $2 million has been raised for his legal costs on the Australian Christian Lobby website. Picture: Instagram/@izzyfolau
More than $2 million has been raised for his legal costs on the Australian Christian Lobby website. Picture: Instagram/@izzyfolau


Mazda confirmed it contacted Netball South Australia but claimed it was not exerting pressure. A spokeswoman said it simply passed on a statement that reminded Netball South Australia of Mazda's values.

"Mazda does not support discrimination of any kind and we trust that Netball South Australia will manage this in the most inclusive and supportive way possible," it said.

ANZ also said it did not consider its conversations "pressure".

"We value our partnership with Netball NZ and any suggestion we have tried to pressure them is absolutely incorrect," a spokesman said.

Israel Folau posted this message onto his Instagram on Wednesday. Picture: Instagram/@izzyfolau
Israel Folau posted this message onto his Instagram on Wednesday. Picture: Instagram/@izzyfolau

A Netball South Australia spokeswoman said the organisation was still standing by Maria Folau's freedom of religious expression.

Ms Triggs said it was important for Israel Folau's case to be tested in the court because most Australians did not understand the law and wrongly turned the debate into one of "morality and ethics".

"The nature of the debate really is quite vicious and ill-informed," she said.

"Freedom of religious expression is protected in the constitution. The question in this case is does an employer have a right to impose values and standards on their employees where that might conflict with their fundamental rights."



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