Pagan's Charge of Vilification Against Christian City Councilors Headed to Court

August 10, 2004


On August 10, 2004 reported, "A long-running dispute between two Christian city councilors and pagans in Australia is heading for the courts, where the public officials face complaints of vilification under a law which some Christians fear is being used to stifle free speech. Rob Wilson, the mayor of a city on the edge of Melbourne, will defend himself Thursday before a judge against accusations that he vilified Olivia Watts, a transsexual witch. The hearing will take place under Victoria's state's Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), a body that operates like a court to settle complaints of discrimination under a 2001 law, the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act. Early last year, Watts stood for election for the Casey city council and lost. Several months later, in an article in a local newspaper, she publicly identified herself as a witch. After the report appeared, Wilson -- a council member, but not mayor at that stage -- issued a press release expressing concern that a series of scandals involving the council 'had all the trademarks of being linked to the occult.' Wilson suggested that local Wiccans may have attempted to plant on the council a candidate who was sympathetic to their cause. The statement, which named Watts, also called on Casey church leaders to hold a special day of prayer about the matter...Watts subsequently launched legal action against the two under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, saying her life and business -- she worked as a naturopath -- had been ruined."