Dykes on Bikes Melbourne has joined over a dozen other community groups to oppose a Victorian lesbian group’s application to hold an event at the state’s Pride Centre explicitly excluding transgender and bisexual women.
The Lesbian Action Group (LAG) applied to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) for a temporary exemption from anti-discrimination laws to hold the event.
The group sought to book the event at the Pride Centre in St Kilda for International Lesbian Day in October.
LAG asked for the exemption for five years of future events to “exclude anyone who was not a Lesbian Born Female”.
The Pride Centre rejected LAG’s event booking on the basis it was “inconsistent with the Pride Centre’s purpose”.
The Australian Human Rights Commission is considering its decision on LAG’s application for the legal exemption.
Before then, the AHRC has published submissions in response to the group’s application.
Among them is a joint submission signed by Dykes on Bikes Melbourne and 14 other LGBTQIA+ groups.
The submission agrees it’s “important and beneficial” for lesbians to be able to gather as a community to celebrate. However, it’s “not appropriate or necessary” to exclude trans and other queer women, the groups argue.
The applicants hadn’t explained how they intended to police sex characteristics at the event, the submission reads.
It argues the applicants can’t realistically enforce the exemption without compromising the “dignity, privacy or safety” of attendees.
Dykes on Bikes ‘stands proudly’ with trans and nonbinary family
Dykes on Bikes Melbourne said the group are strongly opposed to LAG’s application. They say the bid is not representative of the broader lesbian community.
“LAG is weaponising nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ as their pitch to convince the public that their ‘Lesbians born women only’ event is acceptable,” communications officer Kieran Cavanagh said.
“But make no mistake, it is nothing more than dangerous transphobic rhetoric and hate, causing harm and creating division when we should be united.
“Our lesbian community is extremely vast and diverse, and that is a pillar of its strength.
“Without our trans sisters or queer elders, we would not have the freedoms and rights we celebrate today or the insight and knowledge for the challenges ahead.
“At Dykes on Bikes Melbourne our club motto is fun, freedom, and friendship. That includes the freedoms of all lesbians and queer+ women.
“We stand proudly with our trans sisters and nonbinary family. And we’ll continue fighting against LAG’s discriminatory and inflammatory transphobic exemption request.
“There is space for all of us. Nobody needs to be excluded.”
‘Reject this sad stunt’
Equality Australia said LAG’s attempt to book the Pride Centre for the event was “deliberately provocative”.
“Our community has come out in full force to reject this sad stunt,” Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown said.
“Discrimination laws exist to protect all of us, particularly groups that have experienced historical discrimination and marginalisation because of their race, disability, sexual orientation or gender.
“You build community and belonging by creating inclusive and safe spaces, not by excluding the marginalised and vulnerable.”
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