In a recent case before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, two drag queens, Johnny Valkyrie and Dwayne Hill, were unable to prove that they were vilified by blog posts and a video podcast that suggested they were inappropriate role models for children. The blog posts in question were written by Lyle Shelton, who had expressed his concerns about a children’s holiday event called ‘Drag Queen Story Time’ held at the Brisbane City Council Library in January 2020.
During the event, Valkyrie and Hill, performing as drag queens “Queeny” and “Diamond” respectively, entertained around 20 children between the ages of two and eight. However, towards the end of the performance, a group of university students protested the event, shouting, “drag queens are not for kids”. This incident led Valkyrie and Hill to file a complaint against Shelton, accusing him of vilifying them as individuals and vilifying drag queens as a whole.
However, the Tribunal member Jeremy Gordon ruled that the blog posts did not depict the drag queens as child abusers or pedophiles, nor did they vilify drag queens in general. Gordon explained that for a contravention of section 124A, the incitement to hatred or serious contempt must be based on the sexuality or gender identity of drag queens. He pointed out that while some drag queens are transgender or homosexual, a significant proportion are neither.
Shelton, a former leader of the Australian Christian Lobby and the current director of the Family First political party, defended himself by stating that he had been targeted by activists. The case highlighted the complex issue of freedom of speech and the balance between expressing concerns about certain events and vilifying individuals or groups based on their sexuality or gender identity.
The outcome of this case does not mean that individuals or groups are immune from criticism or opposing viewpoints. It serves as a reminder that criticism should be based on valid concerns and should not resort to personal attacks or broad generalizations. Drag queens, like any other individuals, have a diverse range of backgrounds, experiences, and identities, and it is essential to treat them as individuals rather than making assumptions about their character or motives.
This case also highlights the need for respectful dialogue and understanding when discussing sensitive topics such as gender identity and sexuality. It is crucial to create an environment where different perspectives can be shared without resorting to hate or contempt. The ruling by the Tribunal reinforces the importance of promoting inclusivity, tolerance, and acceptance in society.
In conclusion, the case involving Johnny Valkyrie and Dwayne Hill against Lyle Shelton serves as a reminder of the complex issues surrounding freedom of speech and the potential for vilification. While the drag queens were unable to prove that they were vilified, the case highlights the importance of respectful dialogue and the need to treat individuals with dignity and respect. It is through open and constructive conversations that society can progress towards greater understanding and acceptance of diverse identities and experiences.