LGB Alliance files legal bid to ban trans women from drag shows

Jessica Hoyle.

The LGB Alliance has filed a legal bid to ban trans women from a drag show.

In May 2021, lesbian drag king Jess Hoyle sought to hold a drag night for “adult human females” at the Peel Hotel in Launceston, in the Australian island state of Tasmania.

In a submission apparently written by the LGB Alliance Australia on Hoyle’s behalf, it explained: “We do not want participants who are male-bodied humans, attending regardless of how they identify. Lesbians are homosexuals, this is an event to celebrate lesbians and, in particular, provide a safe venue without unwanted presence, attention or aggression of male-bodied people.”

The LGB Alliance Australia, which describes itself as the “Aussie edition” of the British anti-trans group, helped Hoyle file the application for the night to be exempted from certain provisions of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998.

This was submitted to the Tasmanian Department of Justice’s equalities watchdog, Equal Opportunity Tasmania.

“[Trans women] who are heterosexual have pressured and bullied women to make themselves accessible to the sexual advances of men,” it added.

“As lesbians, we find it difficult to meet each other and be in a safe environment away from the eyes of biological men,” it said, noting however that the event wished to hire a gay male LGB Alliance member to work as a DJ and cameraman.

Tasmania’s anti-discrimination commissioner Sarah Bolt rejected the request, saying there was a “significant risk” she would break equality law by excluding men and trans women.

Bolt wrote in a July 2021 letter to LGB Alliance Australia: “The exemption application made by LGB Alliance seeks to go further than asking a person’s sexual orientation by requiring people to provide intimate information about their body to gain access to the proposed events, as attendance will be limited to people who are not ‘biological men’.”

“I do not see how this can be done without intrusive questioning and completely undermining a person’s right to privacy,” Bolt said, adding that doing so would be “offensive, humiliating, intimidating, insulting and ridiculing” and amount to “sexual harassment”.

Bolt also questioned why Hoyle, a member of LGB Tasmania, wanted to hire a man when it was claimed the event was to be “safe” from the “eyes of biological men”.

Equality exemptions are only given the green light by Equal Opportunity Tasmania if the applicant can prove that doing so would still “further the objects of the act”, such as a nightclub having an age requirement or a synagogue only allowing Jewish people to enter.

Bolt said LGB Alliance failed to show how banning trans women would further its aims.

“An exemption should not be granted which seeks to control the types of bodies that are permitted into public spaces,” she said.

Hoyle has now brought a lawsuit against Equal Opportunity Tasmania to the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, with a decision expected by November this year.

If the court dismisses her case, Hoyle told the Daily Mail Australia she plans to go to the High Court.

She told the newspaper she doesn’t want to inspect the genitals of her patrons.

“You can sort of tell just by looking at them. You can tell by their voice by their walk, you can look at their hips and know they are a man,” she claimed.

“We’re programmed to seek biological sex, we are not programmed to seek made-up gender identities.”

Hoyle added: “I think it’s actually humiliating towards lesbians being told they have to include someone with a d**k.”

“That’s fine if he (sp) wants to be transgendered, it’s OK. But at the end of the day, trans women are trans women, in other words, they are men.”

Equality Tasmania warned that if the court rules in Hoyle’s favour it could throw LGBTQ+ rights into jeopardy.

“If Ms Hoyle succeeds it would set a dangerous precedent that would disadvantage not just LGBTIQA+ Tasmanians but all Tasmanians at risk of discrimination,” said the advocacy group’s spokesperson, Dr Lucy Mapstone.

“As a queer, cisgender woman, I know the overwhelming majority of Tasmanian queer, lesbian and bisexual women support equality for transgender women and oppose attempts to exclude them.

“Trans women are women. To say otherwise is inaccurate and distinctly anti-feminist.”

LGB Alliance said: “While Jessica Hoyle is not a member of LGB Alliance Australia, we support the right for same-sex attracted people to congregate in single-sex spaces. This includes the right for lesbians and bisexual women to hold female-only events at the exclusion of all others.

“We understand and support the need for minority groups to gather, including events organised exclusively for trans and gender diverse people, or cultural groups, and ask that this same right is afforded to LGB people, who have a minority sexual orientation. …

“As we can see in this case, denying lesbians the right to hold lesbian-only events is homophobic discrimination against lesbian women, which affects the rights of all solely same-sex attracted people.”

Edited to clarify that Jess Hoyle is not a member of LGB Alliance Australia, but was represented by the group in the exemption submission.