High Court Justice Michael Kirby says gay people deserve an apology for past sodomy laws.

The man last year voted Australia’s most influential homosexual also revealed he had received nasty letters from Sydney Anglican clergy calling on him to leave his partner, seek ex-gay therapy and stop calling himself an Anglican because he doesn’t abide by Leviticus.

Kirby, along with journalist David Marr, were speaking about Anglican faith, sexuality and hurtful gossip Tuesday night, invited by the liberal St James Church on King St.

Looking back, it would’ve been better had I been more open about [my] sexuality earlier, Kirby said. But if I had been I would not have been appointed to any judicial position at that time. I hope that would not be so now, I think it might not be so now, but I’m not sure.
Kirby said the prospect of facing charges under the then NSW sodomy laws was never a concern for him.

It was only criminal if you did anything about it. We knew nobody would get prosecuted unless, as a result of blackmail, it came to public attention, he said.

My own view is, it’s a bit like saying Nelson Mandela didn’t have his pass, and that was a very serious criminal offence, so why doesn’t he apologise? Well people should be apologising to me for oppressing me and others who were being oppressed by these silly laws.

But pressed on the 2005 DPP prosecution and conviction of Father Terry Goodall for consensual sex with a 28-year-old man in 1982 just prior to the repeal, Kirby called such prosecution an abuse of the law.

Now you’ve got me worried, should I have been more radical? One thing I think the courts should do more than they have done in Australia is provide stays against prosecution, Kirby said.

Australians had overcome the challenge of difference and now celebrated diversity as part of God’s gift, he said. Even seeing other people on television made it harder to hate one another, including gays and lesbians.

Kirby said he received letters from a minister of a rich Sydney Anglican church following an interview on ABC Radio last December in which he said anti-gay sentiment came from religion including Sydney’s two Archbishops, Jensen and the Catholic George Pell.

As one appointed to be a messenger, watcher and steward of the Lord in the Anglican Church of Australia, I solemnly warn you that you now stand up in judgement and face the wrath of God if you remain unrepentant, one letter began.

The letter went on to invite Kirby to be healed of his homosexuailty through the work of Liberty Christian Ministries Inc, which can be found on the Sydney Anglican website.

I can only conclude that, like Herod, you are a coward, a liar, a deceiver and that you have set yourself up as the lawless one, the letter stated.

Kirby asked that the Minister not be named, but forwarded anonymised copies to Archbishop Jensen for comment.

The Archbishop’s response to me, which I found very sensible, was give this person the benefit of the doubt, he probably thinks he’s doing you a favour, he said.

I told my partner Johan that and he didn’t quite see it that way.

It’s not the ravings of a madman, it’s what you also see in the law, people who only look at text, they don’t look at context or purpose. It’s like taking a word out of context. That is not what I think or, respectfully, Christian.

Have your say: Do gays and lesbians deserve an apology for our mistreatment in the past?

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