Hundreds of trans rights supporters hit the CBD on March 18, in response to transphobic agitator Kellie-Jay Keen Minshull’s (also known as Posie Parker) visit. Keen is part of the international movement trying to wind back trans rights.
The protest, organised by the National Union of Students’ Queer/LGBTQIA, Campaign Against Racism & Fascism and LGBTI Rights Australia, was outside Parliament House, where Keen Minshull was scheduled to speak.
“Saturday was a victory for trans people,” Elizabeth Bantas, from Socialist Alliance and a member of the trans community, told Green Left.
“The people of Melbourne showed up en masse, outnumbering a small, hateful group of TERFs [trans-exclusionary radical feminist] bolstered by anti-vaxxers and neo-Nazis. Posie Parker was humiliated here like she was humiliated everywhere else in Australia.”
Supporting Keen Minshull was a group of neo-Nazis, who unashamedly and repeatedly performed the Nazi salute and displayed a disgraceful banner. Also supporting Keen Minshull was Liberal MP Moira Deeming (whose fate in the party is being determined).
Labor Premier Daniel Andrews and Liberal leader John Pesutto criticised the neo-Nazis and, following the protest, Andrews announced Victoria will “ban” the Nazi salute.
After the protest, Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) said it was “concerned” about the Victorian Police’s “failure to act compatibly with human rights”.
“Victoria Police failed to consider or uphold any of its numerous obligations to prevent discriminatory or prejudice-motivated acts towards trans and gender-diverse people in its policing of the rallies on Saturday afternoon,” MALS said.
The police have been accused of protecting the Nazis. MALS legal observers noted “clear differences in the tactics and approaches police used toward the two opposing groups”.
MALS said it was concerned about the misuse of capsicum spray, incidents of excessive force and mistreatment of legal observers.
Around the world, transgender rights are under attack. While Keen Minshull insists she is not part of the far right, she has given interviews with, posed for photos with, or appeared on the podcasts and shows of Proudboy activists, including: a participant in the January 6 Capitol Hill riot; far-right Hungarian politician, Holocaust denier and Islamophobe Hans Lysglimt Johansen; Canadian white-supremacist Jean-François Gariépy; and United States right-wing Fox talk show host Tucker Carlson.
Keen Minshull has defended far-right activist Tommy Robinson, claimed former US President Donald Trump represents the lesser evil and teamed up with the conservative anti-LGBT think tank the Heritage Foundation to campaign against including sexual orientation and gender identity in US civil rights law.
Banning people from making a Nazi salute is now being debated, with some arguing it has been a long time coming and others wondering how it will be enforced and what else is needed to eradicate far-right hate groups.
Meanwhile, riot police were called in to Belfield, south west of Sydney, where a group of about 15 LGBTIQ protesters were protesting at a Catholic Church where One Nation leader Mark Latham was to speak.
An activist with Pride in Protest said about 200 “Christian Lives Matter” extremists surrounded the LGBTIQ supporters, punched them and pulling them to the ground and threw glass bottles. “We were in fear of our lives,” they said.