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Ex-rugby player slammed for blaming Aussie wildfires on gay marriages

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SYDNEY: Sacked Wallabies rugby star Israel Folau sparked outrage yesterday by suggesting destructive bushfires and drought ravaging Australia were "God's judgement" for the legalisation of same-sex marriage and abortion.

The devout Christian - who is pursuing legal action against Rugby Australia after being fired in May for posting on Instagram that "hell awaits" gay people and others he considers sinners - made his latest outburst in a Sydney church sermon on Sunday.

The comments were slammed as "appallingly insensitive" by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, himself an evangelical Christian.

Folau said the devastating drought and timing of fires across swathes of New South Wales and Queensland, which have left six people dead and destroyed hundreds of homes, were no coincidence.

"I've been looking around at the events that's been happening in Australia, this past couple of weeks, with all the natural disasters, the bushfires and the droughts," he said.

Folau, Super Rugby's record try-scorer who has played for Australia 73 times, talked to the congregation about same-sex marriage and abortion.

"God's word says for a man and a woman to be together, one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage," he said, while adding: "Abortion, it's okay now to murder, kill infants, unborn children."

Folau continued: "Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time. Do you think it's a coincidence or not?

"God is speaking to you guys. Australia, you need to repent and take these laws and turn it back to what is right by God."

Same-sex marriage became law in Australia following a referendum in 2017 and has been decriminalised.

Said Mr Morrison: "...He can say whatever he likes. But that doesn't mean he can't have regard to the grievous offence this would have caused to people whose homes have been burned down." - AFP