Drag Queen comment complaint withdrawn

A Queensland woman who shared an Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) petition on Facebook has had a complaint against her to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Tribunal withdrawn. But the case highlights the fact that posting on social media comes with risks.

Katrina Tait shared the ACL petition opposing the Drag Queen Storytime Event at a Brisbane library in January.

“I can’t believe I have just had to sign a petition to try to stop drag queen storytime happening at libraries in our country. I can’t believe this actually happened in Brisbane last weekend. What happened to protecting children’s innocence and letting them just be kids? Why the need to have adult entertainers reading them stories? Hardly good role models … Please sign and help save their innocence,” she posted. (We’ve removed one sentence which associated Drag Queens with some undesirable characteristics.)

It got six likes – and that seems to be a record for her page.

The NSW Anti-Discrimination Board investigated the petition after a complaint by a gay man. The complainant says he has has taken 85 cases of vilification or discrimination, and claims a high success rate. But he has withdrawn this complaint. He may have done so because he thought he might not win – or because of his financial situation as he has been hit with costs after losing another case in the High Court. That case turned on whether a NSW Tribunal could hear an interstate matter and this case might have faced the same issue.

One Nation’s Mark Latham tweeted “Good News: … has withdrawn his NSW Anti-Discrimination Board complaint against innocent Qld mum Katrina Tait. But it took parliamentary focus to get an outcome, when the complaint should never have been accepted in the first place.”

However, the ACL’s NSW Director Kieren Jackson was less sanguine. “It is great that this worthless claim has been dropped. What is disappointing is that the complaint got this far. The NSW Anti-Discrimination Board could have saved Katrina a lot of unnecessary time and stress if it had dismissed the complaint straight away. This complaint was without basis, but the process was the punishment.

“Vilification claims must not be used to silence reasonable opinions. Discrimination law should not be used to cancel people and silence their ideas. The Australian Christian Lobby supports the efforts of the Hon. Mark Latham MLC to reform the law to prevent the Board  accepting unmerited claims. The NSW Parliament should support these reforms.”

Eternity reported on Latham’s introduction of amendments to the NSW Anti-discrimination legislation here.

The ACL and its legal arm, the Human Rights Law Alliance (HRLA), supported Tait through her ordeal.

“The withdrawal of this claim is great news for Katrina,” says John Steenhof Managing Director of HRLA. “It should never have got this far and caused unnecessary stress and anxiety for a young Queensland mother. This claim exposes a concerning trend in Australian society. It should be of concern to ordinary Australians and our lawmakers. Activists are using lawfare to try and silence opinions they don’t like.”

“Christians should be aware of the risks of posting on social media. They should also be aware of the fact that any activist can make your life miserable for any post no matter how reasonable. Katrina was a bit ‘unlucky’ that one of the activists watching Bernard Gaynor’s page had seen her sharing of the petition.”

(Bernard Gaynor is a Christian who has been involved in high profile freedom of speech court cases.)

The complainant bought a “vilification” case against Tait in NSW, where the legislation sets the bar higher than “offence” which is used in Tasmania’s laws for example. Vilification is described as “a public act that could incite hatred, serious contempt or ridicule towards a person or group.” Protected characteristics include race, homosexuality, transgender status, and HIV/AIDS status.