Cape Town - Openly gay rugby referee Nigel Owens has
chastised Waratahs and Wallabies star Israel Folau for airing
insensitive views that could have potential life-threatening
consequences, according to the Stuff website.
Owens, writing in his column in Wales' Western Mail, has responded in typically frank fashion to Folau's latest public display of his views on sexuality.
Six months after tweeting his opposition to same-sex marriage ahead of Australia's marriage equality postal vote last year, Folau said recently on Instagram that God's plan for gay people was "HELL... Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God".
Folau has 337 000 followers on Instagram and made the comment in reply to a question from another user on his 29th birthday.
Owens, who has previously chronicled his own tortuous route to accepting his sexuality, worried the effect Folau's words would have on young people struggling with acceptance of their sexuality at this time.
"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, because there is a minority who give the impression you cannot be who you truly are."
Owens said he accepted Folau's right to have a view like he did on same-sex marriage, but felt his post had crossed an important line.
"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."