Premier Daniel Andrews: Anti-trans activists were there to spread hate

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has commented on the protests against the Let Women Speak tour in Melbourne yesterday which saw anti-transgender activists, and self-described women’s rights advocates standing adjacent to neo-Nazi groups on the steps of the state’s parliament.

Warning: This story has details of events 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.

“I won’t share a photo because they simply don’t deserve the attention. But yesterday, anti-trans activists gathered to spread hate. And on the steps of our Parliament, some of them performed a Nazi salute.” Premier Andrews posted to Twitter this morning.

“I wish it didn’t have to be said, but clearly it does: Nazis aren’t welcome. Not on Parliament’s steps. Not anywhere.” the Premier said. “They were there to say the trans community don’t deserve rights, safety or dignity. That’s what Nazis do. Their evil ideology is to scapegoat minorities – and it’s got no place here. And those who stand with them don’t, either.”

British anti-transgender activist Kellie-Jay Keen, who appears online under the name Posey Parker, has been touring Australia with her open mike ‘Let Women Speak’ event. The tour has taken in Sydney, BrisbanePerth and Adelaide.

At each outing Transgender rights protesters have significantly outnumbered the supporters turning up to speak at Keen’s event. At yesterday appearance in Melbourne police held back Transgender rights protesters, while allowing neo-Nazi group National Socialist Movement to parade in front of protesters making Nazi salutes and holding up a sign that read ‘Destroy Paedo Freaks’.

The neo-Nazi group was then allowed to pose for photographs on the steps of the parliament, adjacent to the Let Women Speak event. It is not suggested that Kellie-Jay Keen had any link with the neo-Nazi group, but her controversial views have been described as the spark for the standoff between the different groups.

Yesterday, David Southwick, the Deputy Leader of the Victorian Liberals voiced his concern about the neo-Nazi group’s appearance saying it was an affront to every Victorian who values inclusive, tolerant and multicultural society.

In a joint statement with colleague Brad Bateman, Southwick said the neo-Nazi group had deliberately attempted to incite hatred and violence.

In the wake of the event many are asking why Keen, or any of the prominent people who spoke at the event took to the microphone to categorically state they were not associated with the neo-Nazi group. Questions are also being asked about why police allowed the group to parade in front of protesters and pose on the parliament’s steps.

Among the speakers at the event were Liberal MP Moira Deeming and former NSW Liberal candidate, turned Sky News contributor, Katherine Deves.

Deves told OUTinPerth that there was no link between the two groups and threatened legal action against anyone making the claim.

 

“The police knew they were not with us, the police let them into our buffer zone where no one was supposed to go, and women were terrified because we thought they were going to attack us.” Deves said.

This morning Deves responded to Premier Daniel Andrews statement, saying he was “smearing and inciting hatred towards women” because the extreme rights and left protestors had “crashed” the Let Women Speak rally.

“Parliamentary privilege does not extend to Twitter” Deves told the Premier, issuing a similar warning to federal Labor MP Josh Burns.

A spokesperson for Victoria Police said the protest had involved at least six different groups.

“Some of these groups failed to engage with police in the lead-up to the protest, or altered their plans without notice, resulting in the potential for multiple clashes between the opposing groups.

“Consequently, officers were required to form many lines between the different groups to protect the safety of all involved, stop breaches of the peace and prevent any physical violence.

Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam voiced her concerns saying, “To see neo-Nazis join the anti-trans rights hate rally at Parliament in Victoria today tells us everything about these movements. They are dangerous and they are linked to each other. Both are intolerant and hateful and have no place here.”

Federal Greens leader Adam Bandt, who represents the seat of Melbourne, said he found the incident to be one that provoked disgust.

“I’m disgusted by the anti-trans rally in Melbourne yesterday, protected by their allies: saluting neo-Nazis. The banners they march under and the hate they espouse have no place here or anywhere.” Bandt said.

Independent MP Zoe Daniel raised concern about the two groups appearing alongside each other.

“Provocative displays of neo-Nazism at the Victorian parliament today, including use of the Nazi salute, represent bigotry that is fundamentally unacceptable in Australia. The alliance of neo-Nazis and anti-trans activists is particularly troubling. Bullies must be called out.” Daniel posted to social media.

Dr Monique Ryan, who represents the Victorian seat of Kooyong said it was a sad day for Melbourne.

“The right to free speech and association is one thing – but it’s a very sad day when we see neo-Nazis, anti-trans activists and Liberal politicians gathering as they did today on the steps of Victorian Parliament, fostering hatred and hurt. We’re so much better than that.”

Renewed calls for Kellie-Jay Keen’s visa to be revoked

Queensland based Greens MP Stephen Bates said the speaker at the centre of the protests had a history of aligning themselves with Nazi groups.

“The scenes today in Melbourne were disgusting but not a surprise.” Stephen Bates said, arguing that the federal government could have easily avoided the situation.

Bates had previously called on the Albanese government to deny Let Women Speak founder Kellie-Jay Keen an Australian visa.

“I wrote to the Immigration Minister in January informing him that this speaker attracts neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists to their events, and their visa should not be granted in the interests of community safety.

“My letter amplified the concerns of thousands of community members who signed a petition against the individual’s entry in the country.” Bates said.

The MP said while he welcomed the many politicians speaking out today against the incident, it could have been completely avoided if Immigration Minister Andrew Giles took action.

The Greens spokesperson for LGBTIQA+ issues said the immigration minister still had an opportunity to act before Kellie-Jay Keen’s tour continued on to Canberra and Hobart this week.

OIP Staff


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