A Christian man has been given 300 hours of community service and ordered to pay $14,000 compensation for defacing an anti-Christian mural three days after the plebiscite YES result was revealed.
Ben Gittany, the 24-year-old who covered the image in black paint in November 2018, was sentenced in a New South Wales Local Court on Tuesday.
The mural, titled “St George”, depicted the gay icon holding a joint while dressed as a Jesus-like figure, with a white robe and a halo around his head.
In a video of the incident, Mr Gittany can be heard saying, “I’ve done nothing wrong, I’m defending my religion… I don’t care what happens to me. My religion is more important than me.”
Local Court magistrate Carolyn Huntsman told Mr Gittany, “You traveled to someone else’s community and imposed your views on them with an act that was criminal and harmful. What was left was a large area of black paint which arguably was a disturbing message of rejection to the community and arguably a contempt for other people.”
“We are not a community where violence, criminal acts and property destruction are sanctioned because you have different beliefs to other people. They had to look at it for months. It distressed the owner and the community, and it was extensive.”
Huntsman ordered Mr Gittany to carry out 300 hours of community service saying, “Every time you have to spend hours washing damaged walls you can reflect on your own conduct.”
Mr Gittany was also ordered to pay $14,000 compensation to the owners of the mural.
Independent political activist and humanitarian worker, Milan Maksimovic said he was disappointed in the ruling considering the original artwork was never approved by local council, a fact he says was ignored during the case.
“As a Christian, I’m also personally hurt to know that the mural was obviously based on an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” Mr Maksimovic said.
“The image shows Michael’s hand being raised to smoke a joint in the same way as Jesus’ right hand is often depicted as raised in giving a blessing. The left hand, which in the a traditional Sacred Heart image would point towards Jesus’ heart, is in the mural depicted holding a bottle of poppers (an inhalant drug). This is a mockery of the Christian faith and it is inappropriate for any community that cares about creating a drug-safe environment to have a public image that glorifies it.”
One wonders if the ruling would have differed if the image depicted a slanderous representation of a homosexual, drug-abusing Muhammad.