Newcastle serial online comment poster John Sunol’s bid to have the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act declared in breach of constitutional protections of political speech at the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) has failed.
ADT deputy president Anne Britton dismissed the case, finding that legislation aimed at protecting minority groups was not unconstitutional.
“It seems to me plain that seeking to prevent homosexual vilification is a legitimate end of government,” the verdict read.
“A law seeking to prevent the incitement of such conduct seems to me compatible with the maintenance of the constitutionally provided system of government. It does not seem to me that debate, however robust, needs to descend to public acts which incite hatred, serious contempt or severe ridicule of a particular group of persons.”
Sunol launched the challenge after he was ordered in 2009 to stop posting anti-gay material online or risk facing contempt charges in the NSW Supreme Court, following a 2004 complaint to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board.
Sunol had left homophobic comments on the University of Wollongong’s website for gay students and other public websites where he claimed gays were “out to destroy today’s society,” and called gay men “fags” and “faggots”.
Despite agreeing in conciliation that he would refrain from making similar online posts, in 2008 Sunol left comments attacking gay men and the Sydney Mardi Gras parade on public websites, claiming that pedophilia and homosexuality were linked.
He also left public comments stating that he would refuse to honour the conciliation agreement and was prepared to go to prison if necessary.
Reacting to the ADT verdict on his website, Sunol acknowledged that he lost the case, but claimed the court not ordering him to pay costs was a victory, as he would have been bankrupted.
He wrote that he could not afford to appeal the case further.
He also made comments linking the Sydney Mardi Gras festival to pedophiles and drug dealers — again breaching the Supreme Court’s orders.