The Australian Christian Lobby have begun campaigning for Dr Jereth Kok, a Melbourne GP suspended for social media posts appearing to endorse “racial and religious violence and genocide” and “demeaning” views against gay and transgender people.
Last August, the Medical Board of Australia suspended Dr Kok (pictured) after complaints about his Facebook posts.
Dr Kok later took his case to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which upheld his suspension on March 27. The suspended GP now plans to appeal.
The Medical Board presented more than 30 of Dr Kok’s posts to the tribunal. The board argued they reflected a “lack of the integrity, ethics and compassion required of a medical practitioner”.
VCAT deputy-president Heather Lambrick ruled some of the posts, when read in isolation, “appear to endorse or call for violence and/or genocide towards racial and religious groups”.
Other posts appear to “endorse calls for capital punishment for members of the profession who provide termination of pregnancy services.” And others “denigrated, demeaned and slurred” medical practitioners treating patients with gender dysphoria.
Lambrick ruled other posts “most certainly have the real potential to cause concern/offense to a range of members of the community”.
She said these included “women seeking abortions, other health practitioners and the hospitals/practices in which they work, multiple named races, and members of the LGBTQI+ communities.”
Dr Jereth Kok defends ‘misinterpreted’ Facebook posts
Kok told the tribunal the posts were “taken out of context or misinterpreted” by the board and denied advocating violence.
In the ruling, Lambrick said Dr Kok’s conduct on social media could undermine public confidence in the medical profession.
“Members of the medical profession cannot allow their commentary to escalate unchecked without any regard to the impact on or sensibilities of their Code of Conduct,” the ruling states.
“We have grave concerns about whether the community would accept that any medical practitioner could switch, as though he were a light, from airing disrespectful views online to providing respectful and appropriate treatment for those who fall within a class he denigrates online.
“We also have concerns about the level of respect he can bring to other members of his own profession with whom he may have to engage and/or refer patients to.”
Australian Christian Lobby slams Jereth Kok’s suspension
Australian Christian Lobby director Martyn Iles pledged to bankroll the suspended GP’s appeal to VCAT.
“It is an overreaction in the extreme to ruin someone’s career simply because they have said something that some people do not like, without evidence of any harm,” Iles said.
“Especially when it’s a statement connected to their religious identity.”
But it seems Kok’s inflammatory posts aren’t the “perfect” example of religious persecution the group is apparently searching for.
“The ACL does not agree with every opinion or statement by Dr Kok,” Iles said.
“Religious freedom is important and like every human being, no example is perfect.”
But Australian Rationalist Society president Meredith Doig blasted the Australian Christian Lobby’s “crusade” for the GP.
Dr Doig said the ACL “wants to make Dr Kok their new poster boy” after “raising millions by stirring up outrage” in the Israel Folau case.
“If the Religious Discrimination Bill becomes law, it will embolden other doctors to follow Dr Kok’s inflammatory and offensive conduct in the name of religion,” Dr Doig said.
“Existing anti-discrimination laws will be overridden and people who espouse hateful views will have a potential defence.”
Dr Doig added, “A fresh outbreak of ‘culture wars’ is the last thing we need at a time when Australians need to unite against COVID-19 and rebuild for economic recovery.
“The government has much bigger problems right now and should knock this bill straight off the agenda.”
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