Australian premier tells ‘hateful’ anti-drag protesters ‘get to Florida’

Side by side images of Dan Andrews, premier of the Australian state of Victoria, as he spoke out against anti-LGBTQ+ hate that resulted in a drag storytime event being cancelled

Dan Andrews, premier of the Victorian state in Australia, told hateful protestors to “get to Florida” after a drag event was cancelled due to repeated threats. 

Speaking in front of the Victorian parliament on Thursday (4 May), Andrews condemned the “shameful conduct” of right-wing protestors who threatened a drag story time event at a public library in Melbourne.

Monash Council said the Oakleigh library event would no longer go ahead amid threats of violence against the performer, library staff, councillors and families of attendees. 

Andrews slammed the anti-LGBTQ+ protests and threats as “appalling”, saying that Australians “won’t stand for that ugly behaviour here”. 

“I don’t know how many of these protesters, with not an exercise in free speech but an exercise in hate speech, bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia – the list goes on,” Andrews said.

He continued: “Ugly scenes, ugly scenes on any measure, including death threats against council officers and councillors. It is a disgrace. It is a disgrace. It’s shameful.

You may like to watch

“And my message to those people is very clear: if you want to behave like the worst elements of the Florida Republican Party, well get to Florida. 

“Get over there, where your hateful views might be worth something. They’re worth nothing here. We won’t stand for that ugly behaviour here. It’s appalling.”

Florida has been a hotbed amid a growing pushback against LGBTQ+ rights in the US, with lawmakers in the state championing legislation attacking family-friendly drag performancesLGBTQ+ education in schools and gender-affirming healthcare for trans people

Andrews said similar moves to attack LGBTQ+ people in Australia are “not about free speech” but are “hate speech, plain and simple”. 

“It is wrong, it is out of step with the values of fair-minded, decent, mainstream Victorians. It is on the fringe,” he said.

“Equality is not negotiable. And despite the carry-on and the shameful behaviour of a small few, this government remains committed to every single Victorian, no matter who they are or who they love.”

Andrews added on Twitter that the “Americanisation” of Australian politics “has no place here”, and that the anti-LGBTQ+ protestors’ “hateful views don’t either”. 

Dan Andrews, premier of the Australian state of Victoria, wears a white shirt and blue jacket as he stands outside and gestures with one hand
Dan Andrews said rhetoric attacking LGBTQ+ Australians isn’t free speech, but is ‘hate speech, plain and simple’. (Getty)

Meanwhile, Victorian MP Moira Deeming, who was suspended by the Liberal Party for her involvement in British activist Posie Parker’s anti-trans rally which saw neo-Nazis in attendance, is facing another call for her expulsion. 

Deeming threatened legal action against opposition leader John Pesutto if he didn’t release a statement declaring that she isn’t a Nazi sympathiser. 

The Victorian MP was suspended for nine months from the Liberals after a party room meeting on 27 March after she attended a ‘Let Women Speak’ event earlier that month. 

The event saw gender-critical activists clash with a larger counter-protest of LGBTQ+ advocates supporting trans rights. The rally was attended by members of the far-right National Socialist Movement, who shouted slurs at the LGBTQ+ activists and chanted “white power” before throwing up Nazi salutes

In an email, Deeming said she would “instruct [her] lawyers to commence legal proceedings” if Pesutto didn’t meet a 2pm deadline on Friday (5 May) to declare she wasn’t a Nazi sympathiser, the Guardian reported. 

Deeming backtracked on these plans in a statement released on Saturday (6 May). She said that she “never once considered suing the Liberal Party” and that “reports that [she had], or had planned to do so, are false”. 

According to 9News, Victorian Liberals will hold another party room meeting on 12 May where members will motion for Deeming to be expelled.