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Drag Storytime protest includes Nazi salutes and homophobic slurs

A protester stood in the middle of a throng of people opposed to a Drag Storytime event and repetitively made a Nazi salute towards members of Perth’s LGBTIQA+ community, while vile comments and homophobic slurs were shouted.

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The same protester paraded around with a sign reading “Destroy Pedo Freaks”, the same words that were held up by a neo-Nazi group at the ‘Let Women Speak’ event in Melbourne in March.

Warning: This story has images and comments which might be distressing to some readers. For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

Around 100 people gathered outside the City of Perth Library on Wednesday to protest against a sold out Drag Storytime event hosted by the City of Perth and a local bookshop. The event took place on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

A rag-tag assortment of protesters assembled outside the library on Wednesday afternoon. Supporters of Pauline Hanson and the One Nation party were prominent, many members of the crowd held up crucifixes and bible quotes, they chanted that they needed to protect people from drag performers and called for laws to be introduced to restrict drag performers to adult venues.

Others argued that limiting drag performances to over 18-year-olds was not enough, outright bans on all drag acts were needed, another man declared that society needed to go even further and outlaw men wearing any form of women’s clothing.

While some protesters were offended by the Nazi salute being made by someone among their ranks, others shouted that they’d rank people with Nazi’s beliefs higher than queer people.

There was no counter-protest, but a small group of around 20 members of the LGBTIQA+ communities and their allies stood nearby. Barbs were traded, insults were received, and amongst the shouting there were some people conversing, trying to figure out the opposing side’s views and concerns.

The protesters spoke about a need for “family values” to be maintained and the need for a fight to stop society changing, but some also voiced conspiracy theories about covid vaccinations and fears the World Economic Forum is acting as a secret global government.

Inside a group of children attended the Storytime event where several books were read by acclaimed cabaret and drag performer Cougar Morrison. Later the children played games and undertook craft activities.

A spokesperson for the City of Perth told OUTinPerth they remained committed to the event.

“The Drag Story Hour program is internationally recognised and incorporated into youth programming across numerous libraries worldwide. This event encourages early literacy and a love of books whilst celebrating the differences that make us unique.

We understand that not every event caters to everyone’s preferences or interests. This is why the Drag Story Hour is organised as a unique event, distinct from our standard Storytime. It’s designed for those who specifically choose to attend with their children, each attendee is required to book and must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times.”

All staff, including the presenters engaging with the children, hold current Working with Children checks.” the spokesperson said.

“Our Drag Story Hour program is an integral part of the City of Perth’s Strategic Community Plan, aligning with our vision to create a “vibrant, liveable, and inclusive city.” We are also committed to our LGBTQIA+ Plan, which underpins our dedication to delivering inclusive programming.

“This will be the third time this event will be held at The City of Perth Library. The previous sessions received encouraging feedback and numerous requests for more. We remain committed to offering diverse and inclusive programs that serve the various interests of our community.”

Among the books read at the event was Bathe the Cat by Alice B McGinty and My Shadow is Pink by Scott Stuart.

“Storytime is a wonderful way for kids to see a real cartoon character come to life and read books, it’s as simple as that.” Cougar Morrison told Ten News after the event.

While the City of Perth’s Drag Storytime event encountered a protest, around the country many similar events were cancelled due to violent threats against council staff, representatives and the attendees.

Several events planned in Melbourne were cancelled after police warned organisers of serious threats to their safety, an event in New South Wales was also called off due to safety concerns.  An event in the Melbourne suburb of Eltham was moved online, but protesters still attended the library where they were outnumbered by supportive members of the queer community.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews attended an event held at parliament house, a show of solidarity with the LGBTIQA+ communities, but critics have argued that his government is not doing enough to provide protections from vilification.

Today councils across Victoria will meet to discuss the crisis of LGBTIQA+ focused events being targeted by far-right groups. So far this year at least 10 events in Victoria have been cancelled over safety concerns, and council meetings have seen vocal opposition to LGBTIQA+ events.

The Municipal Association of Victoria will bring in an expert in extremism to address mayors and give advice on how to handle the threats.

“With the well-publicised rise in disruptive and unpredictable behaviour at council meetings, this session will provide councils with the most up-to-date information from mayors who have been impacted, VicPol, and other experts,” said David Clark, President of the Association.

On Tuesday the Greens attempted to introduce a bill into the Victorian parliament that would create protections from vilification on the basis of gender, sexuality, HIV status or disability. Labor did not allow the bill to be brought on but said they would look to bring in their own version on legislation within 18 months.

Greens LGBTIQA+ spokesperson, Gabrielle de Vietri, accused the Andrews government of failing to take action.

“The Victorian Labor government has known about the need to expand our anti-vilification laws for years now, but refused to act,” de Vietri said. “Now we’re seeing neo-Nazis, the far-right, and even members of our own parliament feel emboldened to spout anti-LGBTIQA+ hate.”

Western Australia’s parliament is set to consider our state’s equal opportunity and discrimination legislation later this year.

OIP Staff


Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

QLife: 1800 184 527 / qlife.org.au (Webchat 3pm – midnight)
QLife are a counselling and referral service for LGBTQIA+ people.

DISCHARGED:  info@discharged.asn.au / discharged.asn.au
Discharged is a trans-led support service with peer support groups for trans and gender diverse folks.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 / lifeline.org.au

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 / www.beyondblue.org.au


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