Sometimes it feels like the “progressive” juggernaut is so pernicious that it’s just a cultural fait accompli. But then people like Bernard Gaynor happen. A man who stands by the motto: “Stand Tall. Fight Hard”. Gaynor is the epitome of the true “freedom fighter” in his war for justice.

Less than five-years ago, Gaynor was faced with over $1 million dollars in fines as a result of legal action brought on by one man – homosexual activist and serial litigant, Garry Burns. Gaynor has been the subject of thirty-seven complaints, and has never been found guilty. But in an example of how quickly things can change, Gaynor himself provides the following summary:

  • Garry Burns has been bankrupted;
  • The New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB) has been forced to admit that Garry Burns lodges vexatious complaints;
  • Garry Burns has been found by the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to have made statements against my solicitor that ‘were untrue and without foundation’ and that these statements were ‘malicious, insulting and offensive’ and that they, prima facie, were capable of constituting contempt;
  • The New South Wales Law Society action against my solicitor was dismissed with costs;
  • The ADB has admitted to me in writing that it has failed to meet its own statutory duties under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW);
  • Law reforms have been commenced by Mark Latham in the New South Wales parliament to address systemic abuses by the ADB;
  • The New South Wales anti-discrimination system has been found to be unconstitutional by the High Court of Australia;
  • Magistrate Nancy Hennessy has been forced to recuse herself from matters involving Garry Burns after evidence was presented that she had been involved in private conversations with him. She is no longer responsible for the section of the Tribunal that deals with anti-discrimination matters.

In a last-ditch effort to avoid bankruptcy, Burns has sought the representation of the Independent MP, Alex Greenwich, who was the Co-Chair of the ‘Yes’ campaign to re-define marriage and is also on record as saying that, “the federal government’s redrafted religious freedom bill is a potent danger to all Australians”. Greenwich is requesting the NSW Government to reconsider paying for Burn’s associated court costs. This means that we, the Australian tax-payer, would have to foot the bill! A copy of the letter is included below:

Gaynor is a model of the classic virtue of courage under fire, or what psychologists would refer to today as resilience. He has all the tenacity of the famous ‘Rats of Tobruk’. However, despite these stunning victories, Gaynor is by no means out of the woods. As he himself explains:

I still face four complaints from Garry Burns in three matters currently before the New South Wales Local Court. There are several reasons why these matters should be dismissed, even without Garry Burns’ bankruptcy. But there is still a process to go through, including hearing a motion I filed two years ago for security for costs in these matters.


I am also involved in an appeal within NCAT relating to Burns’ complaints seeking to have them dismissed.


And just yesterday my legal team filed submissions in reply in an application for special leave before the High Court of Australia. It seeks leave to appeal to the High Court to determine the validity of Part 3A of the NCAT Act, which was rushed through New South Wales parliament in response to my victory against the constitutional validity of the previous system.


This bizarre law, passed years after Burns lodged his complaints and in a state I do not even live in is the only reason I am still in court at all.


I also have commenced proceedings to examine Garry Burns’ financial affairs. This process could be explosive.

The events surrounding Bernard Gaynor, though, are a prescient warning as to why the issue of religious freedom is so important. Not many in Australia would have the fortitude and temerity to endure what he has faced.

And if religious people—and especially their appointed leaders—refuse to exercise our democratic freedoms, one of which is the freedom of religious expression, then we are in enormous danger of having them taken away. As Benjamin Franklin once said:

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Mark Powell is the pastor at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Strathfield (NSW), a multi-site church with five successful locations. His show, "Cultural Markisms", hosts discussions about culture with various guests. Mark has a comfortable ability to articulate Truth about contentious issues to a wider audience, and he is frequently published in various publications where his articles often appear in the most popular list.

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