A man complained to the Board that his neighbours had vilified him in public due to his homosexuality and HIV status. Attempts by the Board to bring the parties to a conciliation conference did not succeed. However, the man’s complaint was resolved when his housing provider agreed to offer him priority housing.
A woman complained that she had been vilified on the ground of homosexuality when she and her partner became involved in an argument over the reservation of seats at a function at a registered club.
She alleged that a club member yelled out: ‘Why should I have to sit with those f-ing lezzos’ and repeatedly referred to her and her partner as “f-ing lezzos’. She said that when the man was being ejected from the club he threw the remainder of his beer at her.
At conciliation, the man denied that he had used the words ‘f-ing lezzo’. He said he had called the complainant a lesbian in retaliation for her abusing his partner during the dispute about the seats. The matter was resolved when both parties expressed regret about the incident and the manner in which it had escalated.
A man made a complaint of homosexual vilification after he was abused by a group of three men in the street. He was sitting on the steps of a residential building after dinner with friends, in a well-lit public area with considerable foot traffic, when the respondents came up to him shouting 'faggot! faggot!' and 'let’s get him'.
Two of the respondents began questioning the complainant in an abusive manner, and while this was going on he realised that the third was urinating on him from behind. The respondents then walked away.
The man was shocked and frightened by the incident, particularly as the respondents were much taller than him, and he was concerned that they would attack other gay men. Although they were strangers, he was able to identify them for the purposes of making a complaint.
The complaint against the man who had urinated was settled separately, and another was withdrawn. The complaint against the third man proceeded to conciliation. The respondent denied using the word 'faggot' or being homophobic, and disputed some aspects of the complainant’s story.
However the respondent approached the conciliation positively and said he wanted to resolve the complaint. He accepted that the complainant may have felt intimidated due to his larger size, and said he was horrified that his friend had urinated (although he claimed that this was not actually done on the complainant).
The complaint was resolved by an agreement that the respondent would pay the complainant $1,000 and supply a private written apology.
A Jewish woman asked a public authority to remove anti-Semitic graffiti from a public place they were responsible for. They did not respond. She came to the Board and after a conciliation conference, the authority removed the graffiti.
A Jewish man complained that a public official vilified Jewish people when he made derogatory comments about the background of a person who asked him a question in a public meeting, and did so again during a radio interview about the first incident. The complaint was resolved when the public official provided an apology, which was distributed as a joint media release.
An article allegedly vilifying a transgender person was published in a country newspaper. After an investigation by the Board, the newspaper and the author offered financial compensation to the person who complained.
Vilification complaints can be more difficult to conciliate, so they are more likely than other types of complaints to be referred to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal. Following are some examples.
A homosexual man complained that he was being harassed and threatened by neighbours because of he was gay and had HIV. The complaint was not resolved so it was referred to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal. The Tribunal found the neighbours liable for vilification, and they were ordered to pay compensation to the man.
A homosexual man complained that the content of a website vilified homosexuals. The complaint was not resolved so it was referred to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal. The Tribunal found that the website content did constitute vilification, and that the respondent was responsible for it, even though he said someone else had hacked into the website and put the material there. The Tribunal ordered the respondent to publish a retraction on the website, desist from putting any similar material on the site, and pay the complainant's quite substantial legal costs.
An African-American man complained that a real estate agent vilified him during an argument about viewing a unit, in which both parties were abusive. The complaint was not resolved so it was referred to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal. The Tribunal found that the estate agent's abuse was a public act because he was the balcony of the unit other residents could hear him. It awarded the complainant $2,000 compensation, but said the amount was reduced because of his provocative behaviour.