Israel Folau has unfortunately walked free again after a “vexatious” discrimination complaint lodged by a prominent gay rights activist was declined by the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB).
Campaigner and litigate-activist, Garry Burns wrote to the board’s president in December last year complaining about Folau’s infamous Instagram post in which he warned that “hell awaits homosexuals”.
Burns also complained about Folau’s comments during a video of a church sermon in November last year where Folau blames droughts and severe bushfires on the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2017.
He had previously demanded an apology from Folau, as well as a $100,000 donation to charity.
However, Burns said he still plans to fight head-on after writing to the Anti-Discrimination Board requesting his complaint be referred to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. However, Burns also said that this hurdle would take a while to jump over while courts and tribunals currently make digital switches for the COVID-19 pandemic.
President of the ADB, Annabelle Bennett wrote to Burns this week “declining” the complaint because it was vexatious and “a flagrant abuse of process such that no further actions should be taken”.
Bennett noted that Burns had not pursued the complaint under the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act “in order to avail himself of the processes afforded under the ADA,” but instead “for a collateral purpose, as a means to pressure the respondent to settle with him”.
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has unsurprisingly welcomed the decision, with ACL spokesman, Dan Flynn calling for the Anti-Discrimination Board to implement amendments drafted by NSW One Nation Leader, Mark Latham.
LGBTQI advocates and activists have decried these amendments as a significant weakening of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board complaint handling process.
“Whilst the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board was right to throw out a further and ‘vexatious’ case against Mr Folau yesterday, it still needs reform along the lines proposed by the Hon. Mark Latham MLC,” he said.