Case against former Katter party candidates thrown out of High Court

The High Court has dismissed an appeal by an LGBTI rights activist who was seeking to sue a former Katter Party candidate over homophobic remarks.

Garry Burns has pursued former Katter Party candidates Tess Corbett and Bernard Gaynor through the legal system for five years, the case leading all the way to the High Court.

During the 2013 federal election Corbett, who was the Katter Party’s candidate for the Victorian seat of Wannon, courted controversy when she told her local newspaper that she did not want to see gay people working in kindergartens, before acquainting homosexuality with pedophilia.

“Pedophiles will be next in line to be recognised in the same way as gays and lesbians, and get rights,” Corbett was quoted as saying.

Queenslander Bernard Gaynor, who was also standing for the Katter Party, endorsed Corbett’s comments and was subsequently stood down from the party.

Gary Burns, a LGBTI rights activist who has successfully launched many legal actions against public figures in relation to homophobic remarks, lodged a complaint with the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

In January 2016 the tribunal found that Corbett had vilified homosexuals with her comments and ordered her to publish a pubic apology in the Sydney Morning Herald and well as writing an apology to Burns.

When Corbett failed to comply with the court order Burns unsuccessfully attempted to have her held in contempt of court. A complaint against Gaynor was dismissed.

The decisions were appealed in the NSW Supreme Court, but it ruled that NCAT did not have authority to deal with either Corbett or Gaynor as they did not live in NSW.

Burns then took the complaint to the High Court, who on Wednesday rejected the proposal. In their decision the High Court said allowing the NSW body to hear complaints against people outside their jurisdiction would undermine the constitution.

Bernard Gaynor has declared the decision a “victory” against the LGBT lobby and “rainbow bullies”. Posting to his blog, the conservative commentator said the legal process had been a “reign of terror”.

Garry Burns told supporters that he was “disappointed” and “gutted” by the High Court’s decision.

OIP Staff




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