Tess Corbett ordered to apologise for ‘vilifying’ gays
LAST UPDATED // Monday, 21 October 2013 01:24 Written by // Michael Magnusson
A former Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) hopeful has been ordered to make a public apology by a New South Wales legal tribunal for comparing homosexuals to paedophiles.
In January KAP candidate for the seat of Wannon in Victoria’s west, Tess Corbett, made national headlines following an interview in The Hamilton Spectator that gay people were a danger to children and religious organisations should be allowed to legally discriminate against them when hiring employees.
“Paedophiles will be next in line to be recognised in the same way as gays and lesbians and get rights,” she said.
“I don’t want gays, lesbians to be working in my kindergarten.If you don’t like it go to another kindergarten.”
Corbett’s remarks sparked a backlash leading to calls for KAP to dump her but she withdrew as a party candidate. Later in the month, Sydney activist Gary Burns filed a vilification complaint with the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board against her.
The decision, made this week by the Equal Opportunity Division of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, under the state’s anti-discrimination laws, found Corbett’s remarks equating homosexuality with paedophiles demonstrated intolerance of homosexuals and “incited hatred” towards the gay community.
The tribunal gave Corbett 28 days to pay for an advertisement with prepared wording in The Sydney Morning Herald stating: “I acknowledge that the words that I used vilified homosexual people”.
The board also ordered that she refrain from pernicious public behaviour breaching the Anti-Discrimination Act and its anti-vilification provisions.
Burns told media he was “ecstatic” with the decision and hoped it would send a message to others seeking high office that they were accountable to the country’s anti-discrimination and equal opportunity commissions.
“Hopefully she’ll be reflecting on the damage she has caused,” he said. “It sends a clear message to anyone seeking high office that if you incite hatred.”
Burns added that he did not seek financial damages from Corbett.
“I’m not about punishing people, I just want people to understand their responsibilities,” he said.
University of Melbourne antidiscrimination law expert Beth Gaze said a challenge could have been “more difficult” in Victoria owing to the state not having a specific homosexual vilification law.
Corbett did not appear at the hearing and avoided media throughout the duration.
Following her resignation from the KAP candidacy she was approached by the Australian Christians Party but polled the lowest of the seven candidates, with 1.32 per cent of the vote.