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Two “drag queens” have lost their landmark legal fight over free speech

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They are not beyond  criticism

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal member Jeremy Gordon ruled on August 10 that drag queens Johnny Valkyrie and Dwayne Hill were not vilified by Lyle Shelton in multiple blog posts and a video podcast in November 2020.

The blog and podcast referred to the children’s holiday entertainment event called ‘Drag Queen Story Time’ organised by the Brisbane City Council and Rainbow Families at the Brisbane City Council Library at Brisbane Square on January 12, 2020.

Rainbow Families Queensland engaged Mr Valkyrie to dress as drag queen “Queeny” and Mr Hill to dress as his stage persona “Diamond” and they performed for up to 20 kids aged between two and eight years old.

In throwing the case out of the tribunal in his 76-page decision Mr Gordon ruled that all five separate “heads” of vilification alleged by Mr Valkyrie and Mr Hill had failed.

“The belief of those in the hypothetical audience that when performing drag queen story time the complainants were involved in some sort of child abuse or pedophilia, would not have come from anything in the respondent’s published material but from something else,” Mr Gordon said in his reasons.

Mr Gordon also said another complaint that Mr Shelton had vilified drag queens generally also failed.

“There is a difficulty in that, for there to be a contravention of section 124A the incitement to hatred or serious contempt would need to be on the ground of the sexuality or gender identity of drag queens,” he wrote.

“On the evidence I have heard and seen, some drag queens are transgender persons and some are persons with homosexual sexual orientation, but a substantial proportion of drag queens are neither,” he wrote.

The duo complained of vilification as individuals – alleging that Mr Shelton asserted that dressed as drags queens they were dangerous to children, and were child sex offenders – and also vilification of groups of persons where they were member such as drag queens, transgender people, homosexual or LGBTIQ+.

State laws make it illegal to incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule for persons or groups of people on the ground of sexuality or gender identity.

The decision states that Mr Shelton falsely stated that Mr Hill was “a porn star” and was in the “sex trade industry”.

Mr Hill told the tribunal that he had never been involved in the pornography or prostitution industries and that while he performs as a drag queen under the name Diamond Good-Rim this is only for adult shows, and when working with children he only uses the name ‘Diamond’.

Mr Valkyrie complained to the Queensland Human Rights Commission in January 2020 about Mr Shelton’s blog post in January 2020 which Mr Valkyrie complained “described me as dangerous for children as I am transgender, homosexual and do drag”.

Six months later Mr Hill made a complaint based on the same material to the QHRC, and later both complaints were referred to QCAT.





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