Vic tribunal to rule on rosaries on ovaries jibe

A Victorian tribunal is considering whether to strike out a claim by anti-feminist group Endeavour Forum that a t-shirt telling Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott to "keep your rosaries off my ovaries" amounts to religious vilification.

The Herald-Sun reports that a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal judge will rule whether to allow or strike out a claim by Forum director, Babette Francis, who wants controversial T-shirts sporting the slogan banned.

Mrs Francis claims T-shirts bearing the words "Mr Abbott, keep your rosaries off my ovaries" vilify Catholics and incite violence.

The YWCA, which makes the T-shirts, fought yesterday to have her legal action struck out, arguing it fails to meet the strict parameters of the Racial and Religious Vilification Act.

Barrister for the YWCA, Melanie Young, said the words were a metaphorical expression used during robust debate and did not incite hatred, severe ridicule or serious contempt.

The T-shirts sparked widespread outrage when Greens senator Kerry Nettle wore one into Parliament during heated debate over who should control the abortion drug RU486.

Representing herself in her Tribunal claim, Mrs Francis said yesterday the words offended her, vilified Catholics and stirred anti-Catholic bigotry.

"For a Christian organisation like the YWCA to stir up that type of bigotry is outrageous," she told the hearing yesterday.

Mrs Francis argued that some people would interpret the slogan literally, believing Catholics would literally place their hands on a woman's ovaries.

She wants the YWCA to stop making the T-shirts and make a $10 donation to Helpers of God's Precious Infants.

But Ms Young said some people would find the slogan witty, others would say it was an astute metaphor and some would say it was offensive.

The Tribunal's senior member Rohan Walker will hand down his decision on whether or not to strike out Mrs Francis's claim at a later date, the Herald-Sun says.

According to the Forum's website, the group "was set up to counter feminism, defend the unborn and the traditional family."

Verdict due on 'rosaries off my ovaries' T-shirt (Herald-Sun, 24/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Endeavour Forum

Poll punishes Greens after senator mocks Catholics (CathNews, 14/2/06)

24 Nov 2006