The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has dismissed a vilification complaint brought against Lyle Shelton by two drag queens after he criticised their library performance for children.
In 2020, Shelton, the National Director for the Family First Party, was hit with a lawsuit claiming he engaged in vilification or “hate speech” under Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Acts.
The complaint was made after Shelton responded in a January 2020 blog post to news of a drag queen storytime event hosted at a Brisbane City Council library, where he wrote that the two LGBTIQA+ drag queens were “dangerous role models for children.”
The lawsuit demanded that Shelton pay $20,000 in compensation to the two drag queen performers, issue a public apology, delete five blog posts, and never criticise them again.
Shelton said in a release today that he was compelled, under the threat of fines, to attend two mediations.
“Each time I politely declined to accede to their demands, resulting in a three-day trial in QCAT last November.”
Last week, Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal found that Shelton acted “honestly” and in “good faith” in his public commentary, and had not incited hatred or ridicule, nor vilified the pair because of their gender identity or sexuality.
Shelton praised QCAT’s decision as a “big win for the freedom to speak publicly and boldly for the protection of little children from early sexualisation and indoctrination into harmful gender-fluid concepts promoted by LGBTIQA+ activists and many politicians.”
He warned, however, that while this is a great victory, Australians are still vulnerable under Australia’s flawed regime of anti-discrimination and so-called anti-vilification laws.
Shelton explained that the current laws favour those bringing the anti-discrimination and anti-vilification complaints, with taxpayer-subsidised legal help available for LGBTIQA+ activists.
“The drag queens were defended by the LGBTI Legal Service which is subsidised to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Queensland taxpayer,” he wrote.
The cost for Shelton, however, highlights the punishment is in the process.
“Most Australians will be shocked to know that the price of freedom of speech is north of $200,000, will cost three years of your life and force you to be subject to hours of cross-examination by a Senior Counsel in a public trial,” Shelton said.
Despite the victory, Shelton explained he will not be awarded the costs as “QCAT is a no costs jurisdiction” and there is no way to recover the expenses.
“No Australian should ever again be dragged through a three-year legal process costing hundreds of thousands of dollars for engaging in important public debate about the welfare of children,” Shelton said.
“In a free society debate should. be met with debate, not taxpayer-funded legal action designed to silence and punish fellow citizens.”