Police stopped controversial Independent Senator Lidia Thorpe from disrupting UK anti-trans rights activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull’s rally outside Parliament House today.
Senator Thorpe attempted to enter the marquee where Ms Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker, was holding her last Australian ‘Let Women Speak’ rally.
Police barred Senator Thorpe from entering the marquee, grappling with her before she fell to the ground and then crawled away to rejoin a nearby counter-rally.
“I got pulverised by the police for simply telling [Ms Keen-Minshull] that they are not allowed to be here,” Senator Thorpe said.
“So I’ve been assaulted by the police today … and the police need to answer for the assault.”
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said the incident was under investigation and had been referred to the AFP’s Professional Standards Command.
Senator Thorpe said the government needed to explain why Ms Keen-Minshull was allowed into the country to host her controversial speaking tour.
“We do not tolerate this kind of filth being on Ngunnawal and Ngambri country, let alone the Nazi support that these people have,” she said.
Counter-protesters also chanted “you’ve got Nazis on your side”, in reference to a group of men performing Nazi salutes at Ms Keen-Minshull’s rally in Victoria.
The Melbourne and Canberra rallies were two of several hosted by Ms Keen-Minshull during March at every capital city in Australia except for Darwin.
Large groups of trans rights counter-protesters have reportedly outnumbered Ms Keen-Minshull’s supporters at every one of her Australian events.
Canberra’s counter-rally also dwarfed Ms Keen-Minshull’s contingent, which included One Nation senators Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts and Independent Senator Ralph Babet.
Former Liberal candidate Katherine Deves and Liberal Tasmanian Senator Claire Chandler had both planned to attend the rally but pulled out over fears for their safety.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr condemned Ms Keen-Minshull’s event and accused the attending politicians of “playing divisive fringe activist games”.
“We stand in support of our broader LGBTIQ+ community, but in this instance, particularly with our transgender Canberrans,” he said.
“I think Canberra would be the last place you would come to try and seek support for an anti-trans agenda in this country.
“And I think that speaks volumes for the sort of community that we are.”
Several ACT MLAs attended the counter-rally, including Greens Johnathan Davis, Emma Davidson, Rebecca Vassarotti and Andrew Braddock.
Mr Davis said it was important for community leaders to stand up for marginalised or oppressed groups facing discrimination.
“As a proud gay man, I have benefited from that kind of solidarity when so many Canberrans took to the streets for me and my rights to marry,” he said.
“It is only fair I do the exact same now that I hold high office and defend the rights of transgender, gender-diverse and non-binary people.”
Mr Davis said Ms Keen-Minshull and her supporters were not representative of his consistency or the broader Canberra community.
“Counter protests … demonstrate to Canberra’s transgender, gender-diverse and non-binary community that Canberrans won’t tolerate that kind of hate speech,” he said.
“Canberrans will not welcome far-right extremists and Canberrans are very proud of the diversity of our city and everyone who lives here.”
Australian National University student groups organised the counter rally alongside the Canberra chapters of pro-LGBTQIA+ and anti-fascism groups.
Canberra counter-rally chair Carter Chryse said the rallies were designed to push back against Ms Keen-Minshull’s attempts to “broaden the transphobic movement”.
“We’re here to make sure these rallies can’t happen, to make sure there’s scrutiny on the attendees .. and to fight back against transphobia and bigotry,” they said.
Ms Keen-Minshull founded the Standing for Women group, arguing that transgender-inclusive language threatens women’s rights.
Chryse said the argument victimised trans people and acted as a wedge for other far-right ideas.
“The phrasing of it is designed to mask the transphobic core of it and make it sound more reasonable,” they said.
“To say a woman is defined by reproductive organs or by femininity is quite familiar to the most vile, reactionary sexism of yesteryear.
“Not to mention, of course, that trans women are women and to be violently transphobic is against the rights of trans women.”