The latest stop on anti-trans activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull’s Let Women Speak tour in Tasmania saw the self-described women’s rights activist swarmed by hundreds of protesters who drowned out the relatively small number of people who turned out in support.
The spirited response left Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker, complaining about a lack of police protection and gave fuel to Kiwis hoping for a similar reaction when the tour arrives in Aotearoa this weekend.
Keen-Minshull has widely criticised policies that support the transgender community and has been labelled as an anti-trans activist.
The Mercury reported that around 40 anti-transgender activists from Let Women Speak attempted to hold their rally yesterday outside Hobart’s State Parliament building, but were outnumbered ten-to-one by counter-protestors, who pushed the smaller group back onto the steps of parliament and chanted over their attempts to speak, leaving them effectively surrounded.
Keen-Minshull was drowned out by chants of “Go Home Posie, Go Home!” and “Tassie doesn’t want you here” and clashed with MPs who turned out to offer support to those opposing the event.
Isla McGregor from Let Women Speak Tasmania told The Mercury that organisers had contacted Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services Felix Ellis to complain of “severe bullying, harrassment, noise abuse, and being spat on.
“Many protesters begged members of Tasmania Police to protect them. They refused,” she said.
Keen-Minshull told The Australian newspaper that police had failed to enforce permit conditions designed to keep the two groups separate and her supporters safe and said a person lunged at her as she was trying to leave.
“Once I start thinking about how surrounded we are, I do worry about being able to leave and as I was leaving a man … tried to get me,” she said. “He pushed in front of my security and tried to get to me.”
Events in Hobart were celebrated by those in New Zealand opposed to Keen-Minshull’s upcoming visit.
LGBTQI+ community leader Shaneel Lal tweeted: “Aucklanders - bring your whistles, drums, speakers - whatever you have that’ll make noise and let’s drown Parker’s transphobia.”
Auckland Council allows event to proceed
Auckland Council is allowing Keen-Minshull to hold her event in one of the city’s central parks this weekend, but says this does not indicate endorsement of the event.
An Auckland Council spokesperson told the Herald it had received an application for an event permit from the organisers, along with a Health and Safety Plan.
“The event organisers have the primary responsibility to ensure they run a safe and secure event and we have been informed that they have hired their own security team.”
They said the council will continue to monitor health, safety and security risks until the date of the event.
“We recognise that Aucklanders hold a wide range of views on issues and that the rights to freedom of expression and assembly are protected by law. The granting of an event permit does not indicate that the council endorses the event.”
‘Chris Hipkins, roll the dice’
Earlier this week, Keen-Minshull warned “revoke my visa at your peril” after Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he condemned people who used their right to free speech in a way that seeks to deliberately create division.
The PM’s comments followed a statement from Immigration New Zealand (INZ) that it would be reviewing whether Keen-Minshull, would be allowed to enter the country for her Let Women Speak tour this weekend after a similar event in Melbourne drew support from masked members of the far-right performing Nazi salutes.
In a video posted to YouTube, Keen-Minshull, addressing the PM, said: “Let me just tell you this. Revoke my visa at your peril. Let’s see what happens when you stop a woman who is a women’s rights campaigner, when you stop her from being able to come and facilitate the speech of women in your country.
“It’s totally unfathomable that people will be so afraid of us talking,” she added.
“You’re going to make women angry, you’re gonna make people that care about women angry - and eventually that tsunami is gonna rain down upon you,” she warned.
“So Chris Hipkins, roll the dice, my friend. I don’t think you’ll dare to keep me from coming into New Zealand.”
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins told the AM Show he would not intervene or get involved in the matter of granting entry to Keen-Minshull.
“It’s a matter for the officials,” he said. “Whether someone is of good character to enter NZ or not, is not up to me.”
Hipkins said he believed in responsible free speech.
“People are allowed to express their views and oppose those they don’t agree with.” However, he did not agree with “inciting violence”.
“Law has a clear line on what you can’t do and I respect that.”