Internet sensation ‘Billboard Chris’ in legal battle for right to debate “harmful” gender ideology on “X”

  • Father of two, global campaigner, and internet sensation ‘Billboard Chris’ appeals Australian censorship orders, with support from ADF International

  • “X” post highlighting unsuitability of transgender activist serving on WHO “panel of experts” currently geo-blocked in Australia

MELBOURNE (10 July 2024) – ‘Billboard Chris’ – the activist known for wearing a sandwich board reading “children cannot consent to puberty blockers” and engaging in conversations in viral videos across the world – has mounted a legal defence of free speech in Australia, with support from ADF International.

Chris Elston, known as Billboard Chris, a Canadian father of two, took to “X” (formerly Twitter) on 28th February 2024 to share a Daily Mail article titled “Kinky secrets of a UN trans expert REVEALED”.

The article, and accompanying tweet, criticised the suitability of transgender activist Teddy Cook to be appointed to a World Health Organization “panel of experts” set to advise on global transgender policy.

"As a father, I have grave concerns about the impact of harmful gender ideology on our children’s wellbeing...we need to be able to discuss it."

Cook complained about the post to Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, who requested that “X” remove the content. The social media platform owned by free speech advocate Elon Musk initially refused, but following a subsequent formal removal order from the Commission, later geo-blocked the content in Australia. X has since also filed an appeal against the order at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Melbourne.

Billboard Chris, with the support of ADF International and the Australian Human Rights Law Alliance, and alongside X, is appealing the violation of his right to peacefully share his convictions.

Members of the public are invited to join in supporting Chris’s legal case here: https://adfinternational.org/campaign/supportbillboardchris 

“No child has ever been born in the wrong body. As a father, I have grave concerns about the impact of harmful gender ideology on our children’s wellbeing. This is a serious issue with real world implications for families across the globe and we need to be able to discuss it.

“Children struggling with distress regarding their sex deserve better than ‘guidelines’ written by activists who only want to push them in one direction,” Billboard Chris, engaging in a legal battle for free speech with support from ADF International.

Next steps

The legal team representing Elston have filed a statement of facts and contentions, and the evidence which Elston will rely on with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The Tribunal now awaits the response from the eSafety Commissioner, due August 8th, before moving to set a hearing date.

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“It is vital we challenge the global spread of censorship. We’re used to hearing about governments punishing citizens for their ‘wrong’ speech in parts of the world where strict blasphemy laws are still enforced – but now, from Australia, to Mexico, to Finland, we see Western governments increasingly take authoritarian steps to shut down views they don’t like, often by branding them as “offensive”, “hateful”, or “misinformation.”

“In a free society, ideas should be challenged with ideas, not state censorship. We’re proud to stand with Billboard Chris – and others around the world punished for expressing their peaceful views – in defending the right to live and speak the truth,” commented Robert Clarke, Director of Advocacy for ADF International, who is serving as part of Billboard Chris’s legal team.

“Vital we challenge the global spread of censorship”

The Australian case comes at a time of increased suppression of views shared on “X” at the hands of governments across the world.

In Mexico, former congressman Rodrigo Iván Cortés and sitting congressman Gabriel Quadri have been convicted of “gender-based political violence,” and placed on an offenders’ register, for Twitter posts. For expressing their views on biological sex, both have been ordered to publish a court-written apology on X every day for 30 days, 3 times a day, as a form of public humiliation. ADF International is seeking justice for both men at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

In Finland, parliamentarian Päivi Räsänen, a former government minister and grandmother, is currently being prosecuted before the Supreme Court, having been criminally charged for “hate speech” for a 2019 Bible-verse tweet. She was charged under the Finnish criminal code’s section on “War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity,” carrying a maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment. ADF International is supporting her legal defence.

At the international level, the European Commission is advancing efforts to make “hate speech” an EU crime, on the same legal level as trafficking and terrorism. Initiatives such as the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation could have significant implications for how governments police speech, especially as European Commission VP Věra Jourová singled out X for “the largest ratio of mis/disinformation posts”.

In November 2023, free speech champions across the world signed an open letter to Elon Musk, coordinated by ADF International, requesting he back legal cases against government-enforced censorship of posts on X.

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