[caption id="attachment_9854" align="alignleft" width="90" caption="Dr Van Gend"][/caption]

Queensland Doctor David Van Gend was expected to face the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Board today over comments he made in an article in The Courier Mail in June, entitled "Gay marriage - the case for and against".  Nationals Senator Ron Boswell has spoken about the action brought against Dr Van Gend in a speech in the Senate yesterday as a "sad day for free speech in Australia". Senator Boswell's full speech to the senate is below.

October 12, 2011

Free Speech - Australian Style

I wish to raise a matter pertaining to the restrictions on free speech we have in Australia. This is an issue that has attracted attention recently in the case of the well known columnist Andrew Bolt.

I wish to draw the attention of the senate to another case, that of Dr David Van Gend, who makes regular public contributions on social conservative issues. Dr Van Gend is the subject of a complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Board of Queensland for comments he made in a public forum on the issue of same sex parents. The Courier Mail sponsored forum aimed to provide a balance of opinion both for and against this issue that is important to many Australians. It was a democratic exchange of ideas and opinions.

On the 29/06/11 The Courier Mail invited Dr Karen Brookes and Dr David Van Gend to submit opinion pieces on gay marriage - the case for and against. Dr Van Gend wrote the case against. This is part of what he wrote:

[caption id="attachment_6327" align="alignright" width="130" caption="Nationals Senator for Queensland Ron Boswell"][/caption]

If you hold to the old-fashioned idea a baby deserves both a mother and a father, the president of the Queensland branch of the Labor Party, Andrew Dettmer, calls your views "abominable”.

The state Labor conference recently voted to destroy the timeless meaning of marriage and redefine it to include a pair of men or a lesbian couple, and Dettmer slurred opponents as being no better than racists: “Discrimination against people on the basis of their gender or their sexual orientation is just as abominable and just as unsupportable as discrimination on the basis of race."

Yes it is discrimination to prohibit the “marriage" of two men, but it is just and necessary discrimination, because the only alternative is the far worse act of discrimination against children brought artificially into the world by such men, compelled to live their whole lives without a mother. Now that approaches the abominable.

Dr Van Gend’s comments were quoting the Queensland President of the Labor Party when he used the words “approaching the abominable”. I don’t think it can be in any way construed that this is vilification on the grounds of race, religion, sexuality or gender identity.

These comments invoked an anti-discrimination complaint under section 12A of the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act by a member of the gay dad’s lobby group. The complaint was issue on the 30th of June. The fact that the Labor Party President used the word abominable to describe people that had a different view to him and that Dr Van Gend used the same words “approaching the abominable” to reinforce his arguments should not invoke the Racial Discrimination Act.

Next thing you know, Dr Van Gend has to attend a compulsory mediation which is to take place tomorrow (Thursday). Nothing has been proved against him. A complaint was made and, regardless of substance of right or wrong, the person complained about must turn up and participate in mediation with the complainant. Naturally the doctor feels aggrieved especially as it take him away from a busy medical practice where he does much good work.

I did not think that we lived in an Australia where a disagreement of opinion can result in hauling someone before an anti-discrimination board. This is a country where a two sided debate can exist. This is a country where people are not intimidated from sharing their point of view. Or is it? First Andrew Bolt, now David Van Gend. I know many people do not agree with their views and I know many who do. It seems that tolerance for other views goes out the window if you’re from the left and you don’t like to hear an opposing argument. These are the same people who preach tolerance of everything, yet, in fact they are the least tolerant when it comes to open debate.

Dr Van Gend expressed his view that essentially a child deserves a mother. That compelling a child to live his life without a mother approaches the abominable. Is that really a sentiment expressing by a caring, mature, educated medical doctor that can trigger a compulsory action under anti-discrimination laws?

The case of Dr Van Gend makes a mockery of the anti-discrimination law. It lowers the value of free speech in Australia. If people like Dr Van Gend are forced to appear before the anti-discrimination commission of Queensland then this is a threat to one of Australia’s greatest freedom’s, the right to free speech. This is a major disincentive to people making a contribution to debate across Australia.

Tomorrow will be a sad day for free speech in Australia. How has a country like Australia come to this?

Anti-discrimination bodies should not be used as star chambers by those who simply don’t like what someone else says.