A battle between a transgender witch and a Christian councillor will unfold in the discrimination courts this week.
Olivia Watts is taking on Casey mayor Rob Wilson under Victoria’s new religious vilification laws, claiming he incited hatred against her pagan religion when he outed her as a witch in a 2003 press release.
Entitled “Satanic Cult Out To Take Over Casey”, Cr Wilson’s statement called on local church leaders to hold a “day of prayer” to ward off occult forces.
The press release came amid a competitive council election in which both Ms Watts and Cr Wilson were candidates. He became mayor; she launched legal action with the Equal Opportunity Commission.
Ms Watts told the Herald Sun that Cr Wilson’s comments ruined her life.
“I’ve had my home wrecked and lost my naturopathy business.
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“Nothing can give me back what (Cr Wilson) has taken from me: my self-confidence, my self-esteem and my business.”
Ms Watts said bricks had been thrown through her window and her Junction Village home and garden had been vandalised.
She said one man had come to her door and beat her about the head in an effort to exorcise her. “I no longer have a social life because I’m scared to go out of the house,” she said.
Ms Watts said modern-day witches, contrary to stereotypical beliefs, were not evil and did not fly on broomsticks.
“I follow a nature-based religion in which I worship both a god and a goddess,” she said. “We’re all about life and support for all creatures.”
Cr Wilson, who teaches legal studies and business management at a Christian school, refuses to comment before the case begins on Thursday.
However, the father-of-three claims Ms Watts was the one who sent his press release to the media.
“She’s claiming all this pain and suffering when she brought it on herself,” Cr Wilson said.
Cr Wilson’s statement, and alleged comments by Casey’s deputy mayor, Brian Oates, have led to discrimination complaints by the Sydney-based Pagan Awareness Network.
The network, of which Ms Watts is a member, has since dropped legal action against Cr Wilson, but has pursued its complaint against Cr Oates.
Network spokesman Gavin Andrew said discriminatory comments against any religion should not be tolerated.
“This case is important . . . because it defines whether we have the same rights as any other religion,” Mr Andrew said.