Husband Johan van Vloten

Queer Places:
Fort Street High School, Parramatta Rd, Petersham NSW 2049, Australia
University of Sydney, Camperdown Nuovo Galles del Sud 2006, Australia

Michael Donald Kirby AC CMG (born 18 March 1939) is an Australian jurist and academic who is a former Justice of the High Court of Australia, serving from 1996 to 2009. He has remained active in retirement; in May 2013 he was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to lead an inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea, which reported in February 2014.

Kirby has been openly gay since around 1984. He has lived since 1969 with Johan Van Vloten, who migrated to Australia from the Netherlands in 1963 and in 1999 Kirby listed him as his long-term partner in Who's Who in Australia. Van Vloten helped people living with HIV and Kirby became involved in the issue both within Australia and internationally.[42] Kirby has often spoken publicly in support of gay rights.[43] While President of the International Commission of Jurists he encouraged that organisation to give more consideration to human sexuality as an aspect of human rights,[44] and as an Anglican he has expressed disappointment at his church's stance on gay rights.[45] In 2002, at the Sydney Gay Games VI, Kirby was the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony. "The movement for equality is unstoppable. Its message will eventually reach the four corners of the world," he told a crowd of 35,000.[46][47] In 2006, he attended the International Conference on LGBT Human Rights in Montreal, presiding over the Asia-Pacific Plenary.

Kirby is religious, describing himself as a "Protestant Anglican Christian" and criticising clerical opposition to homosexuality: "I don’t want any old gent in frocks to take my religion from me and to me it is still an important aspect of my life".[48] In November 2007, he accused the Anglican and Catholic archbishops of Sydney, Peter Jensen and George Pell respectively, of hindering the acceptance of gay people in Australian society, stating that homophobia was "reinforced even to this day by religious instruction, and it has to be said, religious instruction from the two archbishops of Sydney".[49] Kirby also expressed disappointment in his "minority of one" status among his High Court of Australia colleagues, and conceded that "some of the justices perhaps have less liberal views than I have".[49]

Kirby was selected by readers of samesame.com.au as one of the 25 most influential gay or lesbian Australians in every year that this list was published, from 2007 to 2010.[50][51]


  1. Brown, A.J. (2011). Michael Kirby: Paradoxes and Principles. Leichhardt: Federation Press. ISBN 978-1862876507.
  2. Biography: Hon. Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG
  3. Punjabi, Ruchir (28 February 2009). "Transcript of Michael Kirby's talk". The University of Sydney.
  4. Kirby, Michael (1999). "Lessons as a Solicitor". Law Society of New South Wales Journal.
  5. Kirby, Michael. "Ten Parables for Freshly-Minted Lawyers". The University of Western Australia Blackstone Law Society.
  6. "Biography: Hon. Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG". High Court of Australia.
  7. Susan Boyd (2003), "Australian judges at work internationally", Australian Law Journal, vol. 77, p. 303 at 305.
  8. High Court Bibliography Archived 18 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  9. Dick, Tim (16 February 2007). "Kirby swims against tide as other judges go with flow". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media.
  10. Shanahan, Leo; Jackson, Andra (3 February 2009). "Kirby's last dissent: my fellow judges racially biased". The Age. Fairfax Media.
  11. Merritt, Chris (16 February 2007). "It's unanimous: Kirby still the great dissenter". The Australian.
  12. "Kirby set to retire". Herald Sun. 1 February 2009.
  13. Byrne, Elizabeth (5 March 2013). "Justice Keane completes the new-look High Court". The Drum. ABC.
  14. "Justice Heydon triples his dissent rate for 2011". Legal Research. TimeBase. 12 August 2011.
  15. http://www.gtcentre.unsw.edu.au/news/docs/HighCourtStatistics_2004.doc
  16. Michael Kirby (26 February 2005). Judicial Dissent (Speech). James Cook University. Archived from the original on 18 September 2006. Retrieved 14 October 2006.
  17. "Bold Enough: Justice Michael Kirby". Sunday Profile. 2 December 2007.
  18. Constitution of Australia, section 72.
  19. High Court gets fourth woman. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  20. Australian Associated Press (9 February 2009). "Kirby takes on new job at ANU law school". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 February 2009.
  21. news@unsw Michael Kirby joins UNSW | UNSW Newsroom
  22. Michael Kirby (19 November 2003). First Hamlyn Lecture 2003 – "Judicial Activism" – Authority, Principle and Policy in the Judicial Method (Speech). University of Exeter. Archived from the original on 18 September 2006. Retrieved 14 October 2006.
  23. Michael Kirby (20 November 2003). Second Hamlyn Lecture 2003 – "Judicial Activism" – Authority, Principle and Policy in the Judicial Method (Speech). University of Exeter. Archived from the original on 18 September 2006. Retrieved 14 October 2006.
  24. Michael Kirby (6 January 1997). Bar Association of India Lecture 1997 – Judicial Activism (Speech). New Delhi Hilton Hotel. Archived from the original on 18 September 2006. Retrieved 14 October 2006.
  25. "The Great Dissenter: Justice Michael Kirby". Sunday Profile. 25 November 2007.
  26. Council President appoints Members of Commission of Inquiry on the Democratic People’s Republic in Korea Retrieved 8 May 2013
  27. "UN appoints Kirby to head inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea". Sydney Morning Herald. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  28. "Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea". United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  29. Walker, Peter (18 February 2014). "UN panel accuses North Korea of human rights abuses resembling Nazis". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 February 2014. The letter is appended to the report; there was no reply.
  30. UN inquiry chairman's letter to Kim Jong-un on North Korean rights abuses
  31. Nebehay, Stephanie (18 February 2014). "North Korea crimes evoke Nazi era, UN inquiry finds". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  32. "North Korea says UN report based on 'faked' material". Sydney Morning Herald. 18 February 2014. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  33. "KCNA Commentary Slams Artifice by Political Swindlers". Korean Central News Agency. 22 April 2014. Archived from the original on 29 July 2014.
  34. Michael Kirby (27 May 2006). Recollections of Sir Harry Gibbs (PDF) (Speech). Canberra. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 September 2006. Retrieved 14 October 2006.
  35. High Court of Australia – Publications – Speeches
  36. "School of Law and Justice Annual Michael Kirby Lecture Series" < http://scu.edu.au/law-justice/index.php/57 >
  37. See "Contributions to the JLIS by Hon. Prof Michael Krby AC CMG." < http://www.jlisjournal.org/briefs/kirbypapers.html >
  38. Commonwealth (of Nations) Secretariat (2011). "Who's in the EPG?". Archived from the original on 22 May 2013. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  39. "Voiceless, the animal protection institute".
  40. Nguyen, Kenneth (8 May 2007). "'Judge Jerry' gives artists the word". The Age. Fairfax Media.
  41. "Performances: Top judge beats rap". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 8 May 2007.
  42. "The Pettifogger Issue 3 2017". The Pettifogger. Hobart, Tasmania, Australia: The University of Tasmania Law Society. 26 May 2017.
  43. Australian Broadcasting Corporation News (19 August 2006). "Kirby calls for united effort on gay rights". Archived from the original on 23 August 2006. Retrieved 14 October 2006.
  44. Michael Kirby (4 March 2004). "Leadership" (Interview). Interview with Michele Boyle. Canberra. Archived from the original on 20 August 2006.
  45. Michael Kirby (16 November 2003). "Michael Kirby". Sunday Profile (Interview). Interview with Monica Attard. Canberra. Archived from the original on 20 August 2006.
  46. Margo Kingston (5 November 2002). "Kirby Courage". Archived from the original on 18 December 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2009.
  47. Andrew West (10 November 2002). "Thanks for having us Sydney, say gays". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 February 2009.
  48. Leach, Anna (15 June 2012). "High Court judge Michael Kirby talks about religion and sexuality". Gay Star News.
  49. Pritchard, Gemma (27 November 2007). "Archbishops fuel homophobia says gay judge". Pink News.
  50. "Samesame 25". samesame. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  51. "Samesame 25". samesame. Archived from the original on 2 April 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011.