Last month, eight of the nation’s most notorious feminism-appropriating reactionary transphobes (FARTs) - anti-marriage equality and anti-abortion campaigners, Islamophobes, politicians and candidates too transphobic for even the Victorian Liberal Party and voters of Tony Abbott’s former electorate, and Nazi sympathisers, no less - held their cynically-titled panel “Why Can’t Women Talk About Sex?” in NSW Parliament.
This bigoted event was organised by the sole NSW politician of the fringe right-wing Liberal Democrats party, Member of Legislative Council (MLC) John Ruddick, who’s plagued by connections to out-and-out neo-Nazis.
While many took a stand against transphobia - protesting outside parliament and the event inside - shamefully the same cannot be said for some Labor members, most notably NSW MLC Greg Donnelly, who opened the event. He was joined by One Nation MLC Tania Mihailuk, one of two of the party’s former Labor MLCs.
This is unsurprising coming from Donnelly - who has voted against bills for marriage equality and the decriminalisation of abortion. He has opposed Safe Schools and ‘same-sex’ couples adopting children, and fear-mongered over the safe, medically-sound use of puberty-blocking medication at a state-run paediatric gender clinic in Newcastle during senate estimates. Despite all this, Labor preselected Donnelly for their Legislative Council ticket three times. A Greens Member of Parliament raised these issues in the past, yet Labor took no action. Similarly, despite there being footage of Donnelly’s involvement, Chris Minns claimed not to be aware.
This is the logical result of the Labor Party’s refusal to draw a line in the sand against transphobia.
Transphobia permeates the whole party, from Anthony Albanese - who denied the existence of trans men, asserting “men cannot get pregnant”, parroting the transphobic dog-whistle of defining women as "adult human females" - popularised by Posie Parker herself - to the national level. It allows the SDA (a sub-faction of Labor, a yellow union, and an insult to retail unionists everywhere) to push transphobia within the party. Donnelly, by no coincidence, is a former SDA branch secretary. Meanwhile, the federal Labor Party panders towards religious conservatives and enables
violence against queer people by entertaining the Religious Discrimination Bill - a bill that does not increase protections for religious minorities in a legal system which still takes the head of the Anglican church as its sovereign, but entrenches religion as an excuse to discriminate.
In a more sickening move, the NSW Labor Party recently revealed its own religious Discrimination bill. Instead NSW Labor should support Alex Greenwich’s Equality Bill and enshrine queer rights, despite making zero election commitments towards increased protections for queer people or self- ID on NSW birth certificates. That is to say nothing of protections for sex workers, who are disproportionately queer and trans, and the removal of religious exemptions to anti-discrimination legislation in NSW.
Donnelly must resign or, failing that, be expelled from the party room, be just the beginning of a complete overhaul of the queer politics of the Labor Party. Internal disciplinary measures instead of expulsion would perpetuate this bigotry within the Labor Party and gives Donnelly less to lose by leaving the party room to become an independent. If the NSW Labor Party shows itself to be less capable of addressing transphobia in its own party than the Victorian Liberal Party, that is a shame of its own. The NSW Labor Party have also made no public statement to confirm that he is being disciplined, to our knowledge. This would mean that he is either facing no consequences, or the party believes that disciplining someone for bigotry is a bad look.
This transphobic congregation of a forum (a TERF Megazord, if you will) comes in light of escalating queerphobic attacks such as the bashing of queer rights protesters in Belfield, assaults by religious fundamentalists against Oxford Street bystanders, and Kellie Jay-Keen’s transphobic tour which saw Nazis performing the Nazi salute on Victorian Parliament’s steps with police protection.
Fighting transphobia is union business, and this bigotry divides and harms everyone - cis and trans - from the real enemy: the bosses.