Belfast drag queen wins harassment case against former city councillor

Drag queen Cherrie Ontop has successfully sued former Belfast Councillor, Jolene Bunting, for breaking a harassment injunction.

The photo shows a split screen of the drag queen Cherrie Ontop (left) who won a court case over former Belfast Councillor Jolene Bunting (right) for harassment. In the photo on the left, Cherrie is wearing a rainbow coloured dress with an orange wig. In the photo on the right, Jolene is squinting in the sun.
Image: @cherrieontopbelfast/@jolenebuntinguk via Instagram

A former Belfast councillor, Jolene Bunting, has been fined for breaching a court injunction against the harassment of a Belfast-based drag queen.

The £750 fine was imposed on the disgraced councillor yesterday, June 5, 2023, after she pled guilty to refusing to take down a social media video about the performer.

In making the ruling, Judge Claire Harmer recognised that Bunting’s failure to remove the video had caused significant stress to actor Matthew Cavan, who often performs as drag persona Cherrie Ontop. She also acknowledged the impact on the performer’s mental health and employment prospects.

In recognising the deliberate action, Justice Harmer said, “This was not an unintentional breach or mistake, it was a deliberate breach of a court order.”

Since July last year, Bunting appeared to have begun a targeted campaign towards Cavan after it was announced that Cherrie Ontop would host a drag storytime event at the MAC theatre in Belfast.

During the event, a group calling themselves Parents Against Grooming displayed banners reading “Hands off our children.” Shortly afterwards, a video was posted on YouTube with a photograph of Cavan alongside a wolf.

Speaking to Belfast Live after the event, Cavan said, “I have been the target of abuse for the last few weeks. I have been getting death threats and have had to get the police involved. I was called a paedophile online.”

Following the intimidation, Cavan was awarded a five-year court injunction against Bunting, barring her from any further harassment of the Belfast drag queen.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Matthew Cavan (@cherrieontopbelfast)

During the injunction hearing, Cavan spoke of being horrified to be likened to a villain from a fairytale such as Little Red Riding Hood. He also reported that a group from East Belfast had sent messages saying they knew where he lived, resulting in him installing security cameras and lights at his home. 

According to his evidence, Cavan suggested that he had lost paid work since the posting of the video and had been put on anti-anxiety medication as a result.

In pleading her defence, Bunting, who was also disqualified from holding office on Belfast City Council for three years earlier this year, claimed that she had not specifically targeted Cavan and that she was only concerned with the welfare of children.

Following yesterday’s verdict, Cavan took to social media, saying, “Justice has been served! Let’s hope that’s it put to bed! 

“Thank you to everyone for your amazing support… I have been very humbled by this whole situation!” 

He continued, “HATE SPEECH AND ABUSE TOWARDS THE LGBTQIA+ community, must forever be held accountable xx.”



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Matthew Cavan (@cherrieontopbelfast)

© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.