Fremantle all-ages drag event targeted by conservative groups


An upcoming youth event in Fremantle has been targeted by conservative and religious groups after it put a call out for drag performers.

The City of Fremantle’s Youth Network called for expressions of interest from Drag Queens and Drag Kings to make part in an all-ages youth show in September, but after the event was highlighted by religious and conservative groups the city has been hit by complaints from people across Australia.

Conservative and religious groups call for drag ban

Conservative group Family Voice Australia lead the calls for the event to be cancelled, saying that all drag performances were unsuitable for children. WA State Director Daryl Budge encouraged followers of the group to lodge complaints with the Fremantle City Council.

“Children need protecting from exposure to sexualized content. Many adult drag performers choose inappropriate and sexualized stage names.” Budge said.

“The exaggerated makeup and clothing of “drag shows” is inappropriate for children because it distorts womanhood and manhood for little minds, before they have a maturely formed definitions of their own sex.”

Peter Abetz from the Australian Christian Lobby posted about the event repeating the call that drag involved highly sexualised actions and was not appropriate for children.

The former state Liberal MP said exposure to drag performances could damage young people’s mental health, and could lead to “vulnerable children” not being “affirmed in the biological sex”.

Binary, the organisation that campaigns against transgender people’s rights, said that despite the City of Fremantle saying the show would be “age appropriate”, it should still not go ahead. Binary suggests that drag performances should be contained to nightclubs and bars where only adults are present.

Legal expert Simon Creek says law needs to be reformed to remove ‘grey areas’ around drag in public

On Perth’s Christian radio station Sonshine FM legal commentator Simon Creek suggested that organizers of events that feature drag queens performing in front of younger people were exploiting “grey areas” in Western Australian law.

Speaking on the program Weekdays With Mike, Creek from the HHG Legal Group, said the discussion was not about a Christian viewpoint versus the LGBT community, but about protecting children.

Creek said Western Australian law from the criminal code through to the Family Law Act have sections which have an emphasis on protecting children from being exposed to materials which could be damaging to them.

“It’s why we have our R-18 classifications on films and what have you, it’s why we’ve always been careful as a society to put ages on the maturity of a child as to when they can and can’t do certain things.” Creek said.

“The whole of the body of of our legal system recognises that you have to be a certain age to be mature enough to understand and make decisions about certain things.

“So bypassing that, by holding these things in a seemingly innocent, nice looking environment, like a library, is a backdoor approach, in my personal view, to getting around the law, and to effectively making an impression on children in an age.

Creek said the state’s laws needed to “catch up” with current event to protect children from being exposed to drag performances; “there are these gray areas where things like this can sneak in the backdoor.”

City of Fremantle says drag event will go on regardless of criticism

The City of Fremantle has confirmed to OUTinPerth that they have no intention of cancelling the upcoming event. A spokesperson for the city said Fremantle was “well known as an inclusive and accepting community that embraces diversity.”

“This event is an initiative of the City’s Fremantle Youth Network – a group of 12-24 year-olds established to foster communication between the City and the community’s youth and to advocate on youth needs and concerns.

“The event will be for an audience of 13 and over. Audience members under 18 will require permission from a parent or guardian to attend.

“The event will be supervised by the City’s Community Development staff, and content will be carefully curated to ensure it is age appropriate. It will not be sexual in nature. It will be a fun event of colourful costumes, music, dancing, lip-syncing and comedy.

“The Youth Network has identified this event as something they’d like to do, and the City is supporting them in that.” the spokesperson said.

Graeme Watson

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