Australian politician finally apologises for anti-gay sticker… a decade later

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A former Australian councillor has finally apologised for a sticker which claimed “the only rights gays have is the right to die”.

Former Cooloola Shire councillor Ron Owen displayed the offensive bumper sticker on his car in 2005 – and after complaints it was incitement of hatred, he waged a 10-year legal battle over the incident.

He was found guilty of inciting hatred by the Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Tribunal in 2008 – but a series of appeals has dragged the case out for a decade, heading through the Supreme Court, the High Court, and back to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The second Tribunal issued a definitive ruling against Mr Owen – who is no longer a councillor – last month.

According to the Gympie Times, official Ann Fitzpatrick ruled that “by seeking to convince his constituents of the reasonableness of his views, he is in reality asking them to adopt the same contempt for homosexuals that he feels”.

Mr Owen was ordered to make an apology to the claimants – and after a decade of fighting against the case, he did that this week.

Richelle Menzies – one of the people who complained about the councillor’s anti-gay views a decade ago – told the newspaper that it was “an important victory for the dignity of a significant number of Gympie people, many of whom had been afraid to come forward because of fears of vilification or even violence from people sympathetic to Mr Owen’s views.”

She added: “The Gympie lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community needs to hear this. They have a right to know [he apologised] even if it was private.

“They were impacted by the things he said.”