A call for a further action

Written by Hilary Knack
March 30, 2023

This week Southside Justice’s LGBTIQ Legal Service has written to the Victorian government asking for further action to be taken in response to the anti-trans protest in Melbourne on 18 March 2023.

We acknowledge and thank the Andrews government for the timely response and strong support of the trans and gender diverse community in the aftermath of the anti-trans rally.

In partnership with Transgender Victoria, Victoria Pride Lobby and Switchboard, a letter, co-signed by 50 leading LGBTIQ+, community, human rights and legal organisations has asked for the below actions to be taken to continue to support trans and gender diverse Victorians.

Urgently implement anti-vilification reforms to protect LGBTIQ+ Victorians  

In September 2021 the Andrews government committed to expanding current anti-vilification provisions that apply to race and religion to also include sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and HIV/AIDS status. The majority of Australian states and territories already have anti-vilification provisions that prevent the incitement of hate, ridicule and serious contempt against members of the LGBTIQ+ community. Victoria is lagging significantly behind on this.

At the recent anti-trans rally, various public statements inciting hate, violence and ridicule were made against trans and gender diverse members of our community. This is unacceptable, and out of line with the accepted community attitudes of Victorians. These statements at the rally have caused significant harm to the wellbeing, safety and inclusion of trans and gender diverse people in our community.

We call for the Victorian government to urgently prioritise implementing anti-vilification protections for LGBTIQ+ people. This would send a strong message that the incitement of hate and discrimination towards trans and gender diverse people is not acceptable.

Initiate an independent investigation of Victoria Police conduct at the anti-trans rally

Community members who attended pro-equality counter-protests at the anti-trans rally have identified a range of allegations of discriminatory policing practices, including the failure by Victoria Police to use its powers to remove Nazi protesters from the steps of the Victorian Parliament, and not removing or monitoring hate speech and banners with violent inciteful statements such as ‘kill pedo freaks’ directed at trans and gender diverse people.

In particular, we refer you to the public Statement of Concern issued by Melbourne Activist Legal Support, members of which attended the rally as legal observers. The Statement of Concern provides a detailed outline of the discriminatory policing practises observed at the rally:

Statement of Concern: Policing of opposing anti-trans & trans rights rallies • Melbourne Activist Legal Support (mals.au)

We call for an independent investigation of Victoria Police actions during the anti-trans rally on 18 March 2023, through the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, including a review of allegations of excessive use of force against attendees at the pro-equality counter-protest. 

Criminal charges against pro-equality protesters and Victoria Police Response

We do not believe it is in the public interest to pursue criminal charges against the pro-trans protesters from the anti-trans rally. We do not condone violence against Victoria Police officers. However, the tactical decisions made by Victoria Police and failure of to use its powers to de-escalate the incitement of hate towards trans and gender diverse people at the rally are factors that are considered to have significantly contributed to charges being laid against protesters.

Events such as these continue to erode the trust of the LGBTIQ+ community and other marginalised Victorians in Victoria Police, already damaged by the Hares & Hyenas raid and Dani Laidley photo leak.

We call upon Victoria Police to acknowledge the significant damage this event has had on the LGBTIQ+ community’s trust of Victoria Police. We call for Victoria Police to make a statement condemning the use of Nazi symbolism and the incitement of hatred and violence towards the trans and gender diverse people, and to identify ways  to improve their relationship with the  LGBTIQ+ community.

Next Steps

We are asking to meet with members of the Victorian government as well as the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner and Commissioner for LGBTIQ communities to push for these initiatives to be implemented.

For further information contact:

Hilary Knack, Manager of LGBTIQ+ Legal Program
03 7037 3205

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