Rosaries off ovaries jibe not vilification, Tribunal rules

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has struck out a claim by a pro-life activist who had argued that T-shirts with the slogan "Mr Abbott, get your rosaries off my ovaries" amounted to religious vilification under state laws.

Mrs Babette Francis (pictured) had asked the Tribunal to ban the YWCA-made T-shirts during last year's public debate over who should control access to the RU486 abortion pill and refer to Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott, a practising Catholic, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

She claimed the T-shirts vilify Catholics and incite violence.

The YWCA fought 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.

Tribunal senior member Rohan Walker has ruled that while "many ordinary people would find the slogan to be distasteful", it did not constitute religious vilification.

"I do not think that the sale and distribution of T-shirts containing it (the slogan) incite hatred against, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of Mr Abbott, Mrs Francis or any other Catholic," he ruled.

The ruling, dated 1 December, also says: "The slogan might generate a more negative response towards those who wear the T-shirts bearing it than towards Mr Abbott or any other devotee of the Catholic faith".

Mrs Francis is the co-ordinator of the Melbourne-based anti-feminist Endeavour Forum.

Abbott shirt 'doesn't vilify Catholics' (Sydney Morning Herald, 5/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Endeavour Forum

Vic tribunal to rule on rosaries on ovaries jibe (CathNews, 24/11/06)
Poll punishes Greens after senator mocks Catholics (CathNews, 14/2/06)

5 Dec 2006