Katherine Deves breaks her silence saying she’s ‘chastened’

Liberal party election candidate Katherine Deves has broken her silence and granted an exclusive pre-recorded interview with SBS World News, saying she’s received death and rape threats and has had to send her family away due the furor around her comments about transgender people.

The heavily edited interview was filmed at a “secret location”, and saw the candidate for Warringah reflecting on her previous comments and promising to contribute to a more nuanced discussion in the future.

“I have received death threats. I have had to have the police and the AFP involved, my safety has been threatened, my family are away out of Sydney because I don’t want them to witness what I am going through and nor do I want their safety put at risk.” Deves said.

Deves said she was shocked to be selected as the party’s candidate and was a supporter of the plebiscite process which sees local branch members selecting the candidate, something she says she’ll continue to advocate in the future. She said she believed she could win the seat back for the Liberals and was excited to be their candidate.

Addressing suggestions that she had only been picked by the Prime Minister because her stance against transgender women would trigger debate that might play well in other seats the government was hoping to win, Deves said she was unaware of any plan along those lines.

Asked if she was sorry about the comments she’d made in the past and the offence they had caused Deves said she had been ‘chastened”, but then appeared to struggle to recall what seemed to be a prepared line to the question.

“I have been very chastened by this process. I recognise that trying to prosecute the arguments about complex, nuanced and difficult subjects…” Deves said, pausing and apologising to presenter Janice Peterson, before continuing, “on complex, difficult and nuanced subjects, it should not take place on a platform the propagates offence and division and hurt, and going forward I will be conducting myself in a dignified and respectful fashion.”

Peterson asked Deves if she didn’t mean the things she’s said in the past, why did she say them?

“As a mother, as a woman, I recognise that the way I prosecuted those arguments was not conducive to proper reasonable debate, it was not the appropriate platform to do so, I’ve removed myself from that platform and I will not be going back there again.” Deves said.

Deves denied the accusation that she is transphobic. “No I am not.” she said. “My issue is the right of women and girls to have a dedicated female sports category for fair competition and players safety.”

Asked what her message would be to young transgender people, Deves said they should understand it is about women’s rights.

“With this issue we have a collision of rights, and thus far the voices of women and girls have not been heard, and when we have a collision of rights in liberal democracies we debate them in a reasonable and measured fashion, and that’s what should have taken place here.”

Deves acknowledged that transgender people make up a miniscule percentage of the population but said “even one male taking a space of a girl means there is a woman who missed out.”

The aspiring politician said she’d had held back on speaking to any media hoping that the coverage around her comments would die down, but had eventually taken up the offer to speak to SBS because she knew they were a broadcaster that reached many Australians across many different demographics.

Deves said she had selected Peterson because she would also know what it’s like to be a woman under pressure.

Deves said she would be continuing with her campaign because thousands of Australian of different backgrounds, religions and sexual orientations had reached out to her and told her they were too afraid to speak of the issues she was raising.

“We are in a time where it’s dangerous to speak your mind.” Deves said.

Reactions to the interview

The interview has been slammed by veteran journalist Barrie Cassidy, who used to host the ABC’s political show Insiders.

“It was pathetic. You would think she was interviewing the Queen of England terrified she would offend her.” Cassidy said of Petersen’s chat with Deves.

The current member for Warringah, Independent Zali Steggall responded to Cassidy’s message, saying it looked like Deves had been given the questions in advance.

“The interview reeked of pre-vetted questions and pre-drafted answers. Where were the questions about existing rules and laws for participation in sport? Or real issues of women’s rights like domestic violence, equal pay, homelessness?” Steggall asked.

The New South Wales Police have told the ABC that they have not received any reports about the threats Deves referred to in her interview. OUTinPerth has contacted the Australian Federal Police for comment.

Update: 25-05-2022 1:38pm A spokesperson for the Australian Federal Police has responded to inquiries from OUTinPerth saying “The AFP does not comment on matters that may be the subject of investigation.”

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[email protected]discharged.org.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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