Two drag performers have taken an Australian Conservatives political activist to the Queensland Human Rights Commission under the Anti-Discrimination Act over a blog he wrote about why “drag queens are not for kids.”
Lyle Shelton, formerly head of the Australian Christian Lobby, appeared before the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) on Thursday for the compulsory conciliation proceedings.
According to the QHRC, “conciliation is a private and informal opportunity for all parties to discuss what occurred, listen to each other’s views and come to an agreement about how the complaint can be resolved.” The proceedings look for a way to resolve the issue through conciliation in the hopes of avoiding time and money spent pursuing the case before a tribunal.
The ways one could resolve a complaint, the QHRC said, are to apologise, change the organisation’s policies, organise training in the workplace or pay compensation for the hurt feelings. In this case, the Thursday hearing did not lead to a conciliation.
The complainants, Queeny and Diamond Good-rim, now have 28 days time to decide if they want to take their case of discrimination before the QCAT for a public hearing. In an email to his supporters, Shelton, who has tried to frame the issue as one dealing with “free speech”, claimed that the legal proceedings before the QCAT could cost him between $60,000-$100,000.
The blog that is at the centre of the complaint was written by Shelton, following the death of Wilson Gavin the president of the University of Queensland branch of the Liberal National Club in January 2020. Gavin had died by suicide a day after he disrupted and protested a Drag Queen Story Time event at the Brisbane Library.
Meanwhile, the Brisbane City Council has said that it will continue to offer its space for Drag Queen Story Time events. Its statement came in response to petitions that sought end such events in the Council’s libraries, and a rival petition to keep them.
The Council said that the Drag Queen Storytime events were held in collaboration with Rainbow Families Queensland.
“Council’s libraries are welcoming, inclusive community hubs that have a range of events that reflect and support Brisbane’s diverse communities. Every family is different, and Council acknowledges this fact and celebrates our different cultures, race, sexuality, genders, and religions,” added the Council.