ABC denies link between Mardi Gras & Israel Folau doco
"One of our objectives is to be relevant to all Australians," says ABC Director of Entertainment.
A documentary on Rugby League player Israel Folau announced at ABC Upfronts yesterday has drawn headlines.
Both news.com.au and The Age drew attention to the controversial project which ABC said profiles “Australia’s most gifted and controversial athlete….homophobic bigot to some, a persecuted freedom warrior to others.”
After Folau’s 2019 social media that homosexuals would go to “Hell.. unless they repent of their sins and turn to God” his posts were deemed a breach of Rugby Australia’s code of conduct.
It’s not clear if the documentary by In Films (Revelation) comes with Folau’s participation.
But it comes in the same year as ABC returns as Live broadcaster of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, with plenty of corporate sentences around being a diverse and inclusive broadcaster.
So how do the two projects co-exist side by side on ABC?
Recently outgoing news boss Gaven Morris told Inside Story he worried whether ABC adequately reflected the views of the 30% of Australians who voted “no” in the marriage equality referendum.
“I’m not talking about religious zealots. I’m talking about genuine Australians who have a point of view that’s different to the 70 per cent. Are we at least making sure that is reflected? I don’t necessarily think we struck that right,” he admitted.
Does that mean there is a link between ABC producing both Mardi Gras and an Israel Folau documentary?
Michael Carrington, ABC Director Entertainment & Specialist tells TV Tonight the Folau doco was originally intended to screen in 2021 but was delayed due to COVID.
“One of our objectives is to be relevant to all Australians and tell stories from all perspectives,” he acknowledged.
“While there’s not a deliberate link between the two, this is definitely a chance to tell another side of the story and explore actually both sides of the story within the Folau documentary.”
The announcement came on the same day the Federal Government introduced a new controversial bill aimed at protecting religious people from “cancel culture” which critics have described as “deeply unbalanced”.