When the process is the punishment

“A victory for Lyle is a victory for all Australians”.

John Steenhof, Managing Director of the Human Rights Law Alliance has spoken about the implications of Lyle Shelton’s victory last week in the vilification case brought against him with a number of media outlets, including Neil Johnson on 20twenty, Fred Pawle on ADH TV, and on Sky News Australia.

Speaking about the laws that formed the basis of the legal action against Lyle Shelton, John told Fred Pawle:

“These [vilification] laws are particularly difficult because they set such a low bar for an offence. Which means they are easily used by people who want to engage in viewpoint suppression”.

As John told Neil Johnson:

“The outcome is a big win for Lyle and a vindication of his right to stand up for children and to write articles that point out the dangers and the risks and the genuine concern that he had around these drag queen story time events”.

The problem with many of these vilification laws is that the process is often the punishment, as John explained:  

“In many ways, the process is the punishment, because Lyle was subjected to three and a half years of this case being run by these complainants, and that really has an incredible cost. Lyle has been exceptionally courageous. 

The good thing is that courage is contagious. If Christians see people like Lyle standing up for their faith, it will give them the courage to also be able to stand up for their faith”.

John has indicated that the decision should also serve as a warning to activists who seek to weaponise these laws:

“His case is only one case but we’re hoping it does send a shot across the bows of those activists who would weaponise laws to try to attack Christians for speaking their beliefs in the public square”.

You can listen to John’s interviews in full here and here.