Free Speech or Hate Speech - R...

Rugby

Free Speech or Hate Speech - Rugby Australia's dilemma with Israel Folau


Share this article


The Israel Folau saga could drag on a bit longer for Rugby Australia, according to a leading Sports Law expert.

Professor Jack Anderson, Director of Studies of Sports Law at the University of Melbourne, joined Tuesday's OTBAM to shed some more light on the situation.

"He has made these comments before so what has happened is Rugby Australia, his employer said 'Don't do it again' but he has done it again," he told Nathan, adding: "And so, they had him on a warning and now they've said 'you're facing serious consequences - you're going to lose your job' so in some ways it's that straight forward but of course, it's not really in the whole context.

"Obviously there is a sporting context. He's their best player by far and it's a World Cup year. Maybe there's pressure from sponsors here from the other side.

"Also the interesting thing is he's now got 24 hours to reply to this 'Code of Conduct' hearing and we don't even know whether or not he will go for this hearing but if he does, he'll probably argue two things.

"First of all he'll say, kind of, a procedural thing, 'Well, in a way, you've already made a decision - you've already tried to more or less sack me so what's this hearing about?'

"And the second point is, if he does go to the hearing - what will he argue? And he may well argue this human rights to religious discrimination argument and say 'I hold these views sincerely' and there's no doubt that he does hold these views sincerely.

"'Why am I being discriminated in the work place because of this?' So they're the two key issues."

Free speech or Hate Speech?

One possible defence which Folau might argue is his right to freedom speech under the Human Rights Act, which states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

However, Anderson highlighted how it might not be that straight forward for the full back. "The one thing is it's a human right but not all human rights are absolute. All of us who are in contracts of employment, no matter what, qualify our own human rights. We do that every day and human rights come into conflict every day.

"And there is this distinction between free speech and hate speech. This is not hate speech because hate speech is where you incite others towards a violent reaction. This is plainly, kind of, religious discrimination argument that he's going to play.

"But it becomes interesting because it becomes an athlete in this situation - can he express himself like this? If you look over history, we've had this before in terms of athletes having political views. Some we agree with, some we don't.

"So for example, with James McLean with the poppy argument - there's a political element to that. Is he allowed say 'No, I don't want to wear the poppy at work'.

"There's other examples in Australia - one of their most famous sports stars, tennis stars, is a woman called Margaret Court and she has some views on homosexaulity that are not good and yet, one of the major tennis stadiums here is named after her.

"You can go right back to even Muhammad Ali who said 'No' to the draft on political and religious grounds. But, I think when we come back to this what he said is something I found morally repugnant but also his employer said 'We don't mind you practicing your religion in private. In fact, your teammates know about that but we ask you under the code of conduct not to go o to social media and do this and that's what he did," he added.

Australian Head Coach Michael Cheika has already ruled out a return to the international set-up for Falou ahead of any hearing which may take place.

Subscribe to Off The Ball's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.


Share this article


Read more about

Australia Folau Free Speech Hate Speech Human Rights Jack Anderson Rugby Rugby Australia Rugby Union

Live: Title

Description

Added to queue
Removed from queue

On Air

Share

Share

Next up in queue

Title
Description
Duration

There are currently no podcasts in the queue

Go to podcasts

On Air

OTB

OTB

Up next

Friday Football Betting Show

Friday Football Betting Show

12:30 PM-01:30 PM

Share

OFF THE BALL

OFF THE BALL

07:00 PM-09:00 PM

Share

TEAM 33

TEAM 33

09:00 PM-10:00 PM

Share

Off The Bench

Off The Bench

10:00 AM-11:00 AM

Share

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Share on