‘Victory for the bigots’: Fury as another Drag Storytime cancelled

City of Port Phillip Councillor Tim Baxter holding banner in Pride March
Image: courtesy of Councillor Tim Baxter

A Victorian councillor has warned of the chilling consequences of cancelling Drag Storytime, as violent threats cancel yet another event before it was even announced.

In May, multiple family-friendly queer events were cancelled over safety concerns after violent threats from right-wing opponents. Fringe group protesters have also stormed and disrupted council meetings in Victoria.

Last week, the City of Port Phillip council has confirmed a drag storytime event “under consideration” at St Kilda Library for Pride Month won’t go ahead.

A draft flyer of the event was shared with some parents at a library branch. The threats then began towards councillors, staff and a drag performer, City of Port Phillip CEO Chris Carroll said.

“Due to the security and safety concerns, and to avoid any disruption and distress to young participants and their families, staff and other library users, we will not be holding this event in person,” Cr Carroll said.

“We condemn the hate speech directed to our Council, staff, Councillors and the performer on this topic.

“The City of Port Phillip is known as a welcoming City and we are proud of our history in supporting inclusion.

“We greatly value our large LGBTQIA+ community and will be celebrating Pride Month in June with several events.”

Councillor ‘furious’ at ‘victory handed to violent bigots’

After the council’s decision, one councillor, Tim Baxter (pictured above, centre), unleashed in a lengthy statement on how “disappointed, indeed furious” he was by the move.

“The fact that some [events] may move online is little consolation,” he wrote on Facebook.

“The CEO has been put in a tough position. I understand and respect his reasoning, namely to minimise risk and protect staff from threats.

“[But] I cannot agree with a decision that simply elevates future threats by letting terrorists win.

“The far right have escalated their war against queer kids in the last couple of years. Their goal is to have events cancelled, and to push queer folk back into the closet.

“With each event cancellation, we hand a victory to these violent bigots.

“Although they are a tiny minority among Victorians, they are now allowed to dictate when and where queer events can proceed.

“By moving events online, by keeping information secret, by hiding ourselves from thugs, we energise them. Bullies gain power through appeasement.”

The Greens-aligned councillor said council’s role is “to run events for our community to feel included, even loved.”

“When an Australian far right extremist murdered Muslims in a mosque in Christchurch, NZ, Port Phillip hosted an open air Muslim prayer session in front of our town hall,” Cr Baxter said.

“This act of defiance showed that we had that community’s back. That we would not cower before cowards. Do we not have the queer community’s back?”

Don’t ‘buckle in the face of bigotry’

Cr Baxter also said, “Our library staff should be able to proudly advertise and run events for our community. And they should be able to feel safe doing it.

“These events are cancelled because police were unable to advise that they could make the events safe.

“My question is: how are we able to make Pride March safe each year? How are we able to make sittings of state parliament, or council meetings safe?

“If the police can’t protect queer kids, how can they protect any of us? Or is protecting queer kids during Pride Month simply not a priority?”

Councillor Baxter then warned the “decision to buckle in the face of bigotry” has long-lasting impacts.

“The far right will be assured that their tactics work – this is a huge win for them,” he said.

“And next year, maybe there won’t be any queer events at all. For safety.”

Drag Storytime at Victoria’s Parliament House

In May, Victoria Premier Dan Andrews also weighed in. In parliament, Andrews condemned ugly scenes at council buildings and told protesters to take their “hateful” views “to Florida”.

A few weeks later, on IDAHOBIT, Premier Andrews and Equality Minister Harriet Shing hosted a Drag Storytime event at Victoria’s Parliament House.

Five drag performers who had events cancelled read stories to a crowd of more than 100 people at the event.

Read also: Courtney Act wants ‘more leadership’ after Drag Storytime hate

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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