The Australian debate show Q+A was targeted for its pro-LGBT+ coverage (YouTube/Sky News Australia)
A charity worker has been sentenced after threatening to kill the staff of an Australian talkshow that supported LGBT+ people.
David William Wonnocott, 47, pled guilty to making threats to kill the employees behind ABC’s panel debate show Q+A over its supportive coverage of the LGBT+ community.
He specifically singled out Q+A staff on a public forum saying: “QnA should be shut down, you c**ts. Keep supporting the LGBT community and I will kill you all.”
When approached by police Wonnocott told them “I don’t agree with the LGBT+ community”, and said he wanted ABC to stop talking about it.
“I want them to stop [speaking about] this f**king community, the LGBT whatever f**king they are,” he said, according to magistrates. “I wanted to scare them.”
In October, Wonnocott pled guilty to using a carriage service – meaning a communication provider like Facebook, Twitter or texting – to menace, harass or offend.
The court noted that he had a history of intimidating people and using carriage services in this manner.
In a submission to the court the defendant’s lawyer claimed that the LGBT+ community went against his “religious beliefs,” but the judge dismissed this as irrelevant to the case.
The judge added that most members of the community in Australia supported LGBT+ people and found homophobia and transphobia offensive.
Wonnocott was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of three months. The maximum sentence he could have faced for the charge is three years in prison.
After an appeal by Wonnocott’s lawyers he was granted bail with strict conditions that included obtaining a mental health plan and a ban from accessing social media.
Gay Q+A host left the show over relentless abuse
Q+A‘s former host, broadcast journalist Hamish Macdonald, came out as gay in 2019. He left the show after 18 months citing the appalling abuse he was targeted with on social media.
While Wonnocott’s charges were not related to the trolling that McDonald was subjected to, the abuse he received was enough to prompt him to delete all his social media accounts.
“I didn’t go into [the show] naively. I knew there would be added scrutiny,” he later told The Sydney Morning Herald. “But I do think people would be surprised by the degree to which people who work in roles like that are left alone to navigate the trolling and the abuse that comes with it.
“It was a surprise to me. It was overwhelming at times. It became something I could not manage on my own, and I could not get away from it.”