UPDATE (10:15)—The UWA Student Guild Pride Department posted the following in the protest event discussion on Facebook this morning:
“IMPORTANT UPDATE: An email from the Vice-Chancellor has just been sent to all students and staff, citing that as there were security concerns around the event, it has now been cancelled. LOOK AT WHAT WE DO WHEN WE UNITE”.
UWA’s statement read: “The University holds firm the principles of freedom of expression and maintains its position that it does not wish to set a precedent for the exclusion of objectionable views from the campus. However in this case the event hirers could not meet their obligations of the venue hire contract, providing no confidence that UWA could ensure safety om campus.”
UPDATE (10:35)—The UWA Student Guild Pride Department has since posted the following in the protest event discussion on Facebook:
“FURTHER UPDATE: Today’s snap action event is still going ahead. It’s important to celebrate our victories while also acknowledging the work that is still yet to be done! Come down to Oak Lawn as planned at 2:30 to listen to Cherie McCullough speak and to give yourselves a well deserved pat on the back.”
Today, known transphobe, homophobe and general all-round bigot Quentin Van Meter is speaking at the University of Western Australia.
His presence was organised by the Australian Family Association, who campaigned against marriage equality during the postal vote—Terri Kelleher, a spokesperson for the AFA, said that “Marriage is what marriage is … it is a particular union oriented towards the bearing and rearing of children” (which is not impossible for queer couples given the existence of trans and gender diverse people). If you need any more reasons to oppose the AFA, they are also anti-abortion, and have plenty of fearmongering, unscientific garbage festering on their Facebook page.
Quentin Van Meter said that transgender people are “delusional”, believes that affirming the identities of transgender children is child abuse, denies any science and lived experience of trans people, is anti-marriage equality, anti-abortion and against premarital sex.
He is also the President of the American College of Paediatricians, a conservative organisation listed as a hate group by the US not-for-profit Southern Poverty Law Centre due to its views on LGBTQIA+ people.
UWA has received a tonne of criticism and feedback over their decision to host the homophobe, and for doubling down on this by quoting freedom of speech while simultaneously acting like they genuinely care about transgender students and their right to a safe and accepting place of learning. UWA ignored a petition with over 8,000 signatures that sought to cancel the event, and stated:
“The University considers that cancellation of the Australian Family Association event would create an undesirable precedent for the exclusion of objectionable views from the campus. It would also give rise to arguments that the values we hold are supported by intolerant and repressive policies against those who do not share those values.”
They also say that their respect “in relation to LGBTQIA+ people generally, has been evidenced by the rainbow flag, which has flown for some months at the front of the UWA campus”, which basically amounts to Look everybody! We have a flag! Isn’t it pretty? We’re not queerphobic even though we’re giving a steaming pile of garbage a platform and, subsequently, validation!
And Van Meter has praised the University for this decision.
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has denounced UWA’s decision:
“As a Union we strongly advocate for the rights of individuals to intellectual freedom and freedom of expression, however we also unquestionably maintain that any right to free speech does not extend to speech that will harm others or lead to their harm.
“We wish to express our unwavering support for our LGBTQIA+ community and regret the damage the defense of the event has already done to it by UWA’s decision to host this event.”
The Curtin Centre for Human Rights has released a marvellous statement about the event going forward: “to host a group that is actually bringing into question the existential existence of transgender people through ignorance and hate, masked through rational thought, is completely antithetical to what we would have thought UWA stood for as an institution.”
If you want to do something about this, come to the protest today at 2.30pm that the UWA Student Guild has organised. There is another protest later in the evening for those who can’t make it to the first.