Media release

In a win for children and free speech, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has dismissed a complaint brought by two LGBTIQA+ drag queens against blogger and advocate Lyle Shelton.

Shelton, who in January 2020, blogged in response to a drag queen story time event at a Brisbane City Council library that drag queens were “dangerous role models for children”, was sued for allegedly committing “hate speech” under Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Act.

Shelton, who currently serves as National Director of the Family First party, was defended by the Human Rights Law Alliance, a not-for-profit firm specialising in protecting freedom of religion and speech.

Drag queens Johnny Valkyrie and Dwayne Hill had demanded $20,000, a public apology and that Shelton delete five blog posts.

After being compelled with the threat of heavy fines to attend conciliation twice, Shelton politely refused to accede to their demands and the matter went to a three-day trial in QCAT last November. 

In last week’s written decision, Gordon said Shelton had acted “honestly” and in “good faith” in his public commentary about drag queen story time and that he had not incited hatred or ridicule, nor had he vilified Valkyrie or Hill because of their gender identity or sexuality.

“This is a big win for the freedom to speak publicly and boldly for the protection of little children from early sexualisation and indoctrination into harmful gender-fluid concepts promoted by LGBTIQA+ activists and many politicians,” Shelton said.

“As a long-time campaigner for freedom of speech, I will continue to advocate for reform of Australia’s flawed regime of anti-discrimination and so-called anti-vilification laws.

“No Australian should ever again be dragged through a three-year legal process costing hundreds of thousands of dollars for engaging in important public debate about the welfare of children.

“In a free society debate should be met with debate, not taxpayer-funded legal action designed to silence and punish a fellow citizen.”

Shelton thanked the HRLA, Tony Morris KC and barrister Simon Fisher who represented him at the trial.

He thanked the 1293 people who donated $208,282 on-line to fund the bulk of his legal defence and his lawyers who provided much pro-bono work.

“Without your support and prayers, I would not have had a hope.

“Most Australians will be shocked to know that the price of freedom of speech is north of $200,000, will cost three years of your life and force you to be subject to hours of cross-examination by a Senior Counsel in a public trial. This is not the Australia I grew up in.

“To quote US protest singer Oliver Anthony’s Rich Men North of Richmond, ‘it’s a damn shame what the world’s gotten to’,” Shelton said.

Shelton called for LGBTIQA+ activists to drop all anti-free speech legal action against and persecution of people like Binary spokesperson Kirralie Smith, Hobart City Councillor Louise Elliot, women’s app founder Sal Grover, expelled Liberal Moira Deeming, Let Women Speak organiser Angie Jones, academic Holly Lawford-Smith, stood down children’s psychologist Dr Jillian Spencer, former Liberal candidate Katherine Deves and sacked Australian Breastfeeding Association counsellor Jasmine Sussex.

“The consequences of the de-gendering of marriage in law since 2017 have been profound. “Politicians must now act to protect what most Australians thought they could take for granted – the freedom to speak freely about gender, women, girls’ and children’s rights,” Shelton said.