Local Victorian Councillor forced to apologise for tweets

A local councillor in Victoria has been forced to apologise for personal social media posts she made that were critical of the transgender industry and its negative impacts on young children.

Melissa Ferguson, a local councillor with Latrobe City Council, is the latest in a growing number of people targeted by activists who are seeking to shut down free speech that is critical of LGBTQ+ ideology. 

A fellow councillor lodged a complaint against Ms Ferguson in relation to her social media activity, and referred the matter for internal arbitration. 

Following that process, Ms Ferguson was found to have breached the council’s Code of Conduct and was ordered to provide both a verbal and written apology to the Council for her tweets. 

Ms Ferguson provided the apology as required but has denied that her social media posts incited hatred or violence towards anyone: 

“The allegations … are that my private Twitter account was somehow framed to be a personal attack on the community which is against everything I believe”.

Ordinary Australians are increasingly being targeted for speaking up about issues of public importance – such as the debate around controversial and experimental transgender treatments for children – and being silenced or punished for expressing their views on social media.

HRLA clients like Dr Jereth Kok and Lyle Shelton have been targeted for engaging in public debate on issues of importance, with activists seeking to punish and silence them. 

Freedom of speech and expression are important human rights protected in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Australia is a signatory.  The standards set out in that treaty for the protection of free speech, open debate, and freedom of religious expression are extremely high.

This is why HRLA exists. To defend ordinary Australians like Jereth and Lyle who are targeted and punished for speaking up on important issues of public interest. 

These increased attempts to silence people who speak up is concerning, and represent a direct attack on a flourishing pluralistic society. Unchecked and unchallenged, they will lead to enforced groupthink and thought policing.