19 March 2023 – A diverse group of trans, LGBTIQ+, multicultural, women’s and other civil society organisations have joined together to condemn the hate speech and transphobic displays that took place outside Victorian parliament.
The coalition said it highlighted the urgent need for Victoria and other jurisdictions to expand their anti-vilification laws to prohibit all forms of hate speech, including vilification based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
There are currently no federal laws and no laws in Victoria, South Australia or Western Australia protecting LGBTIQ+ people from vilification. Only vilification based on race (and in Victoria, also based on religion) is prohibited in these places.
Son Vivienne and Jeremy Wiggins, CEO’s of Transgender Victoria and Transcend said: “Surely, we can agree that whatever our personal or political beliefs, we share a human desire for mutual respect?
“Anti-vilification laws are one way to protect humanity against violence, hate and bigoted ideologies that hurt all people, but especially those at the intersections of stigmatised gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, faith, class and disability.
“Transgender Victoria and Transcend believe in standing for common decency and compassion and we call upon state and federal governments to strengthen legal protections against hate.”
Jackie Turner, Founder of the Trans Justice Project said: ”Trans people deserve to thrive. Yet right now we are facing unprecedented attacks on our rights, lives and health care from anti-trans hate groups. I encourage everyone to stand in solidarity with the trans and gender diverse community in calling out these attacks.”
Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia said: “The actions of the anti-trans protesters in Victoria yesterday speak for themselves and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms. Clearly there is no place for Nazi salutes and signs calling for the destruction of trans people in Australian public debate.
“The neo-Nazi ideology and that of the anti-trans protesters have much in common – they target vulnerable minorities to incite hatred and fear. These ugly displays of transphobia are typical of the sort of vilification trans people have to deal with every day and now the broader Australian public can see for themselves the sort of people doing it.”
Mohammad Al-Khafaji, CEO of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) said: “With International Day on the Elimination of Racism on Tuesday, we can’t stand by and let the symbols of racist ideology be used to demean the dignity of any person in our wonderfully multicultural society, whatever their race, religion, gender identity or sexuality.”
Daniel Aghion KC, President of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) said: “Vilification, in any form, has no place in Victoria.”
Jana Favero, Director of Systemic Change, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said: “It was shocking to see footage of yesterday’s anti trans neo nazi displays. We condemn this display of racism, hatred, and fear mongering. Such discrimination and division does not reflect us as a community and must be rejected and condemned.”
Michael Barnett, Aleph Melbourne said: “White supremacy of this nature lead to the persecution and murder of millions of Jews, LGBTIQ+ people and other minorities in World War 2. There is no room for this ugly behaviour in Melbourne, or anywhere else. Transgender, gender diverse and all LGBTIQ+ people have a right to live in peace and safety, without fear of bigotry, transphobia or intolerance.
Renee Carr, Executive Director of Fair Agenda said: “The fight for women’s rights is one for respect and dignity. We condemn the actions of all who target and marginalise people in our community to incite hatred and fear. All women must join together to ensure our movement is not co-opted to demonise the trans women among us. A better future for women is one where we all have safety, security and agency over our lives and bodies.”
In 2021, a cross-party Victorian Parliamentary committee recommended expanding Victoria’s racial and religious vilification laws to protect everyone from hate, including transgender people. These recommendations are yet to be implemented.
In the lead up to the federal election in 2022, the Commonwealth government committed to enacting religious anti-vilification laws but has not committed to prohibiting vilification based on other attributes.
Caitlin Reiger, CEO, Human Rights Law Centre said: “This weekend we saw clearly that far right hate and extremism is on our streets, on social media and in public life, and it’s going unchecked. We stand with transgender, gender diverse and LGBTIQ+ community and condemn this bigotry and hatred. The Andrews Government must act against intolerance and introduce stronger anti-vilification laws so that we can all be safe and live a life free from hate.”
Ms Brown said reforms to protect LGBTIQ+ people from the harms of hate speech were long overdue.
“In 2023, it cannot be that Nazi salutes vilifying trans people are legal in Victoria, or anywhere in Australia. Everyone deserves to live without people condemning their simple right to exist, or live with dignity,” concluded Ms Brown.
Media contact: Anna Brown 0422 235 522, Tara Ravens 0408 898 154