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Dan Palmer: Australian prop reveals mental health struggles after coming out as gay and hits out at Israel Folau

Israel Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia for posting anti=gay comments

Folau, a fundamentalist Christian, had his Wallabies and Super Rugby contracts terminated last year after posting a meme that said hell awaited “homosexuals” and other groups.

“Although it wasn’t the primary impetus for me doing this, the longer the Folau saga dragged on, the more I felt a responsibility to say something,” said Palmer.

“To me, what is more important than the damage he has caused rugby is the deep impact he has undoubtedly had on kids who looked up to him, and who struggle every day with understanding their sexuality.

“He will never see the impact he has had on these young people, but if he could, I doubt he could live with himself.

“Thankfully, from my experience in rugby, views like Israel’s are the exception, not the rule.”

Only a handful of elite rugby union players have come out.

Sam Stanley, who played rugby sevens for England, became the first English professional rugby union player to come out in 2015.

Welsh international rugby union referee Nigel Owens, one of the game’s most popular and recognisable officials, came out in 2007 and has been a vocal champion of inclusion for gay sportsmen and women.

Palmer’s column triggered an outpouring of support from former teammates and other rugby figures.

“I feel really happy for Dan,” Wallabies captain Michael Hooper told reporters on Friday. “He’s a great bloke, he’s a great Wallaby … His words speak loud in the article.”

Former Wallaby and ACT Brumbies flanker David Pocock wrote on Twitter: “Dan Palmer is one of the best men I got to know and play alongside in rugby. Incredibly hard working and an actual genius.”

Reuters

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