Justice and Love

The Honourable Michael Donald Kirby AC CMG (he, him) 

Christian – Anglican; Gay; International Jurist and former Judge of the High Court of Australia, Academic, Human Rights Medal laureate, Australian National Living Treasure 


Ensuring that there is justice before the law has been Michael’s lifelong vocation as a jurist and as an educator. Cornel West famously said that “Justice is what love looks like in public.” It is clear to many that love is the foundation of his vocation. His dedication to the law, his faith, and his abiding and loving relationship with his spouse Johann van Vloten of 54 years has been a blessing for his loved ones, our community, country and world. 

Image description:

A smiling Michael stands against an ulster orange backdrop. He is dressed in a charcoal coloured business suit with an orange coloured tie flanked by a rainbow lanyard. On his suit is a lapel pin that identifies him as a Companion of the Order of Australia, and on his ring finger is his wedding band. Both his hands hang in balance with the right hand holding up his Judge’s wig and his left hand holding in balance an opened Book of Common Prayer

Reflections from Michael: 

“I was brought up in the Sydney Diocese of the Church of England (now Anglican Church of Australia). I sang in the local church choir. I loved the Book of Common Prayer and liturgy. Although I was later defined that the church in Sydney was rather hostile against LGBTIQ people, including parishioners. But I still remain and adherence to the simplicities of the Protestant Christian tradition.”

“The features that continue to attract me to the Anglican tradition are that it is the only branch of the major traditions of Christianity in the world that has consecrated gay bishops; welcomed female bishops; ordained openly gay priests; and open to dialogue about the relationship between Christianity and LGBTIQ people.”

“The most powerful story in my religious upbringing was that of Jesus and his crucifixion. His message of love and reconciliation is a good message for all people, religious or not religious. My partner Johan is not religious. However, I retain a link to my birth family's tradition.”

“The Starting Point for improving the position of LGBTIQ, women, and other minorities in the Christian churches is to embrace the science about the varieties of sexual orientation and gender identity. Ultimately that will happen. But it is taking an awful long time!”

Photographed by David Silva of Studio Commercial