Victoria must act as IDAHOBIT events axed due to violent threats

Rainbow Community Angels and Thorne Harbour Health call for action on far-right extremism
Image: Rainbow Community Angels

Victoria’s Thorne Harbour Health has called for “swift and collective” action as multiple IDAHOBIT events are cancelled after violent threats from right-wing extremists.

May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). But in Victoria, organisers have axed multiple family-friendly queer events to mark the day following threats and safety concerns.

This week alone, Mornington Peninsula’s Woodleigh School cancelled a drag storytime event over safety concerns. Another event at Melbourne’s Eltham library moved online after staff received violent threats.

Melbourne drag performer Dean Arcuri, who performs in drag as Frock Hudson, had four events cancelled.

In response to the cancellations, queer community members have also set up the Rainbow Community Angels.

Outside Eltham library on Wednesday, the Angels disrupted a group of anti-drag protesters with loud music and their large angel wings to block them out.

Speaking on IDAHOBIT, Thorne Harbour Health Acting CEO Carolyn Gillespie condemned the extremists’ threats and supported queer community efforts.

“The threats of violence and hate speech from a vocal minority cannot and should not dictate whether LGBTIQ+ people can safely and fully participate in society,” Gillespie said.

“Community events can offer us a meaningful engagement with one another, a space to be affirmed and celebrated for who we are, and an important contributor to a more equitable and inclusive society.

“Cancelling an IDAHOBIT event due to threats of violence toward our LGBTIQ+ communities is a powerful reminder that our work is far from over.

“IDAHOBIT is a chance to acknowledge the discrimination faced by our LGBTIQ+ communities internationally. [But] this year Victoria has an opportunity to lead by example and swiftly respond to the recent spate of attacks on our LGBTIQ+ communities.”


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Victorian government hosts Drag Storytime at Parliament House

On Wednesday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Equality Minister Harriet Shing hosted an IDAHOBIT Drag Storytime event at Victorian Parliament House.

Five performers who’ve had events cancelled, including Frock Hudson, read stories to a crowd of more than 100 people at the event.

Shing told The Age it was in defiance of the “small hateful minority” targeting both drag events and the trans community in recent months.

“We will never, ever let a small, hate-filled rabble take away from our joy, our pride, our dignity and our wellbeing,” she said.

“It’s important that we all stand together and make sure that when we say equality is not negotiable, we mean it. And when we say that our parliament and our communities are inclusive, we quite literally mean it.”

Thorne Harbour Health calls for law reform

Last week, neo-Nazis disrupted a Rainbow Community Angels meeting. They wrote homophobic abuse and “Heil Hitler” in the Zoom comments section, according to The Guardian.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews recently condemned the threats that forced one event’s cancellation as “hate speech — plain and simple”.

But Thorne Harbour Health says the Government must fulfill its pledge to expand anti-vilification laws to protect queer Victorians.

Victoria Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes says consultation is underway. But the Greens have accused the government of dragging its feet on the reform.


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Thorne Harbour Health wants “greater leadership” from Victoria Police so queer community events can proceed safely.

“Our communities have already started to mobilise and find innovative solutions to make events safer to attend,” Acting CEO Carolyn Gillespie said.

“We hope that Victoria Police can get on board and support their efforts.”

Councils to hold crisis talks after meetings targeted

Meanwhile, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) is holding an emergency meeting for Victorian councils on Thursday.

Fringe far-right and conspiracy theory groups have disrupted more than a dozen local council meetings in recent months.

MAV President Cr David Clark said the meeting is to discuss the increasing risk to safety with police and an extremism expert.

“With the well-publicised rise in disruptive and unpredictable behaviour at council meetings, this session will provide councils with the most up-to-date information from mayors impacted, Victoria Police, and other experts,” Cr Clark said.

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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.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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