Drag queens sue Christian crusader for $20,000
Exclusive: Two "drag queens" are suing Christian crusader Lyle Shelton for criticising their library performances with children, in a landmark legal fight over free speech.
The pair is demanding $10,000 each in compensation from Mr Shelton, a former leader of the Australian Christian Lobby and failed Queensland Senate candidate for the Australian Conservatives.
They are also demanding an apology and retraction of Mr Shelton's blogs and Facebook and Twitter posts criticising Drag Queen Story Time at Brisbane's State Library in January this year.
Johnny Valkyrie - who performs as Queeny - and Dwayne Hill - who performs to children as "Diamond" and in shows to adults as "Diamond Good-Rim'' - failed to win any payment through Queensland's Human Rights Commission.
Now they have lodged a complaint with the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), claiming vilification and discrimination on the grounds of their sexual orientation, sexuality and gender identity.
"Both complainants are fearful that people now see them as paedophiles and dangerous to children, which has affected their self-worth,'' they state in a complaint filed with QCAT by their solicitors, the LGBTI Legal Service.
"They were distressed and humiliated by (Mr Shelton's) very public posts and the subsequent public commentary incited.
"Both complainants hold 'blue cards' … permitting them to work with children.''
The document states that Mr Shelton's blog made the "false implication that he (Dwayne Hill) uses his adult stage name in children's shows and false statements that he is in the pornography and 'sex trade' industries.''
The documents filed with QTAC include Mr Shelton's website blog, stating that "Drag Queens and what they represent are not for kids''.
"They are dangerous role models and they should not be provided a place in front of children in public libraries,'' the blog states.
Mr Shelton's blog states that Diamond Good-Rim is a "homo-eroticised name, a reference to the anus''.
"Good-Rim is a 2019 winner of an X Award from the Adult Entertainment Industry,'' the blog states.
Mr Hill says in court documents that he is not involved in pornography or prostitution industries.
The court documents includes a photo of a diamond ring displayed on a model of a penis, which Mr Shelton alleges was posted on Diamond Good-Rim's Facebook page.
"Let's hope the kiddies watching Drag Queen Storytime last Sunday don't go exploring on Good-Rim's Facebook page,'' Mr Shelton's blog stated.
"Or ask their mum what 'good rim' means in the wonderful world of drag queens.''
Mr Shelton's blog states "RIP Wilson. You and your mates are heroes''.
The University of Queensland's Liberal National club president, 21-year-old student Wilson Gavin, killed himself in January after a video went viral of him with several other protesters shouting "drag queens are not for kids'' at the library storytelling.
The QCAT complaint filed by the LGBTI Legal Service alleges that Mr Shelton's statements "incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or serious ridicule of the complainants''.
The QCAT complaint states that Mr Valkyrle has suffered anxiety, depression and experienced suicidal ideation as a result of Mr Shelton's blog.
It states that Mr Hill has felt anxiety and depression and "reduced his drag queen performances and had some difficulties as a result''.
Mr Shelton's lawyers, from the Human Rights Law Alliance, have not yet lodged a defence in QCAT.
But Mr Shelton asked Mr Hill to drop the case in July, in a letter filed with QCAT.
"The purpose of my blog-post was to express my deeply held conviction that Drag Queen Story Time events are extremely inappropriate for children,'' the letter states.
"There are a large number of parents in the community who share my concerns and it is in the public interest that they would want to know about these events taking place in public libraries.''
In the letter, Mr Shelton states that "I hold no ill will or feeling towards you and the post was not meant to be a personal comment about you''.
"I acknowledge that you are free to adopt and live out an identity and lifestyle that is at odds with my convictions and beliefs,'' the letter states.
"My blog post is a legitimate exercise of another fundamental freedom - my freedom of thought, speech and expression on issues which I feel strongly about and which are of significant public interest.''
Mr Shelton said he was "disappointed to receive the complaint''.
"It appears to be aimed at attacking my reasonable speech and shutting down reasonable public discussion of a significant and contentious social issue,'' his letter states.
QCAT has listed the matter for a compulsory conference in Brisbane at a date yet to be announced.
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Originally published as Drag queens sue Christian crusader for $20,000