GoFundMe has taken down Israel Folau’s appeal for money to fight Rugby Australia in court and refunded all those who donated.
On Monday morning, the page was displaying a ‘Campaign Not Found’ message.
"After a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded that this campaign violates our terms of service," the company's regional manager in Australia Nicola Britton said.
"As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity.
“While we welcome GoFundMe’s engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion.
"In the days since Mr Folau's campaign launched, more than one million dollars have been donated to hundreds of other campaigns, large and small, across Australia. Those acts of kindness are the heart of GoFundMe.
"Our platform exists to help people help others. Australians have shown themselves to be among the most kind and generous people in the world.
“We look forward to helping more Australians fundraise for causes they care about in the coming months and years."
GoFundMe was also displaying a rainbow flag emoji on its social media pages on Monday.
The fund had received over $750,000 in donations before it was removed.
Folau’s page appeared to be a clear breach of the website’s policies.
“Campaigns we deem, in our sole discretion, to be in support of, or for the legal defence of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases,” the site says.
‘Support gives me strength’
On Saturday, Folau took to social media to thank the 9000-plus donors for their money, doubling down on his intention to use the funds despite public outcry.
The hardline Christian had his $4 million Rugby Australia contract terminated in May after a social media post citing the Bible was deemed homophobic.
He said he was "unsurprised" by criticism from RA and media personalities regarding his decision to establish the GoFundMe page.
"The money that is donated will be used to fund my legal battle, which could take years. While the attacks against me have shown I have a big fight on my hands, I will stand strong," Folau wrote on social media.
"Your support and my faith in Jesus Christ will give me strength."
In his initial plea for donations, Folau said he had "the fight of my life on my hands".
He has launched legal proceedings with the Fair Work Commission against RA and is seeking up to $10 million in damages.
The case could be a landmark test of religious freedoms in Australia.
RA were less than impressed by Folau's attempt to solicit donations online.
"From our perspective (Go Fund Me) is a place where sick children get support, so it's certainly not a strategy we think is appropriate," Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle told Nine News on Friday.
Former Wallabies teammate Drew Mitchell also slammed Folau's decision, saying there were others more deserving of donations.
"YOU are in a fight that YOU chose to be in after YOU broke the terms of YOUR contract, the kids below are in a fight they NEVER wanted to be in & yet YOU think YOU deserve donations more than they do??!!," he posted online.
YOU are in a fight that YOU chose to be in after YOU broke the terms of YOUR contract, the kids below are in a fight they NEVER wanted to be in & yet YOU think YOU deserve donations more than they do??!!— Drew Mitchell (@drew_mitchell) June 21, 2019
It’s no longer about religion, it’s about YOU and YOUR greed.@IzzyFolau 🤦🏼♂️ pic.twitter.com/mdywzaw1ha