Nigel Owens responds to Israel Folau's 'god's plan for gay people' comments
International rugby referee Nigel Owens has said that Australian full-back Israel Folau's comments on 'hell is god's plan for gay people' could potentially push young rugby players over the edge.
Folau posted a picture of a cartoon depicting the difference between people's own plans for their lives compared to God's.
An Instagram user asked the Wallabies utility - "What was God's plan for gay people?" - after Folau tweeted last year that he would not be lending his support to Australia's same-sex marriage 'YES' campaign.
The 29-year-old replied to the question: "HELL... Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God."
Owens, writing in his column with Wales Online, said he had once counselled a suicidal young rugby player and that Folau's remarks could potentially tip some people over the edge.
"Comments like Israel Folau's about gay people and all other types of bullying by all kinds of people is what can put people like that young boy in that moment where it's enough to tip them over the edge," wrote Owens.
"Because there is a minority out there who give the impression that you cannot be who you truly are.
"We need people to understand and respect everyone for who they are, you don't have to agree with or even like it, but let everyone live their own lives.
"Yes, you are entitled to your opinion but one should understand what that opinion can do to young and vulnerable people's lives in particular ones in a bad place dealing with their sexuality."
Rugby Australia has yet to speak to Folau about his comments, however, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Waratahs back and his manager will sit down with Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle and her Waratahs counterpart, Andrew Hore, some time on Tuesday morning.