You’ve gotta admire people who go through the tedium, expense and risk to fight for their rights and beliefs in court. The controversial World Youth Day laws were repealed in the end because two Sydney activists bothered to take a stand.
Gary Burns, another Sydney activist, is another one of these everyday heroes. In the past he’s taken on such powerful figures as John Laws and Steve Price, in the name of stamping out homophobia, and won.
Now Burns has Jeff Kennett, former Victorian premier and President of Hawthorn Football Club, in his sights.
Earlier this year Kennett defended the decision to sack male bisexual football trainer Ken Campagnolo, saying that once Bonnie Doon Football Club found out that Ken was bi, they had a duty of care to fire him from his job. “You had this gentleman there who was obviously close to young men, massaging young men,” said Kennett.
“It ran an unnecessary risk, and that’s why it decided it was best that he not perform those duties again. So the club was trying to do the right thing. When you are in charge of a group of young boys, as this club was, as I understand it, it’s got to make sure. It’s the same if you have a pedophile there as a masseur, right?”
Ah, no Jeff, it’s not.
Burns wants to take Kennett to the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal for “inciting hate against gay men.” Burns says that it’s important to use litigation to remind people that “with their alleged free speech comes responsibility.”
Kennett seems unfazed by the law suit, telling AAP, “I wouldn’t know him from a bar of soap. I don’t know how he thinks he has any presence there. We’ll just let him do what he wants to do.”
Burns will donate any money that he gets from the case to Twenty10, a Sydney charity that looks after GLBT youth.