All Black scrum-half TJ Perenera has said that he is opposed to the views regarding homosexuality which have been expressed by Australian rugby player Israel Folau.
Earlier this month, Folau said in a comment on social media that gay people would go to hell "Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God".
Folau, who is deeply religious, has since further explained his views on Australian website, Players Voice. The 29-year-old has escaped sanction by Rugby Australia who have accepted his explanation.
"I’d like to add my voice to the conversation currently taking place," wrote 42-cap All Black Perenera on Twitter.
"As professional rugby players, whether we like it or not, we are role models for a lot of young people. Notably, young Māori and Pasifika people."
Days following Folau's comments, referee Nigel Owens raised concerns over the effect they would have on young people struggling with their sexuality. Perenera has similar concerns.
You don’t need to look far to know that young Māori/PI [Pacific Islanders] are overrepresented in youth suicide statistics and, as I understand it, even more so when you look to those who are part of the Rainbow community. Comments that cause further harm cannot be tolerated.
Let it go on record that I am 100% against the comments that were made by Israel. It was not ok to say that. It’s not an attitude I want to see in the game I love. There is no justification for such harmful comments.
To anyone, young Māori/Pasifika people especially, who may be struggling with their identity - please know that it is ok to be you. You are perfect as you are. Do not let these comments keep you from being yourself. Polynesia has been sexually diverse since forever.
Picture credit: Sportsfile