Dykes on Bikes condemns ‘lesbian born female’ event in Australia

Dykes on Bikes

Australia’s all-female-identified motorcycle group Dykes on Bikes has condemned plans to hold a “lesbian born female” event in Melbourne.

To mark International Lesbian Day on 15 October, the newly-formed Lesbian Action Group (LAG) Melbourne is hoping to host an event at the Victorian Pride Centre at St Kilda, which would exclude transgender, bisexual, queer, and heterosexual people.

Ahead of the event, the group has submitted a request to Australia’s Human Rights Commission to ask for an exemption to the country’s anti-discrimination law, to invite only “lesbians born females” to their event.

Australia’s Human Rights Commission has the power to grant temporary exemptions for up to five years from the provisions of the country’s anti-discrimination law.

Dykes on Bikes Demonstration
Dykes on Bikes Melbourne has condemned LAG’s plans to exclude trans women. (Getty Images)

In their application, seen by The Star Observer, LAG claimed that they could “organise and hold private lesbian meetings and gatherings over these past 20 years to avoid any more challenges by the Transgender community.”

Australia’s Human Rights Commission made the LAG’s application public and invited people to share their thoughts.

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Among those submissions, around 14 LGBTQ+ advocacy groups spoke out against the LAG’s proposal, agreeing that, while it was important for lesbians to be able to gather as a community, “it was unnecessary to exclude women who were transgender or bisexual.”

One such group, Dykes of Bikes, described LAG’s plans as “nothing more than dangerous transphobic rhetoric and hate, causing harm and creating division when we should be united.”

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Dykes on Bikes’ Communications Officer Kieran Cavanagh clarified in a statement that LAG did not “represent the broader lesbian community.”

Cavanagh also noted: “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.”

Dykes on Bikes added their names to a joint submission to the Australia Human Rights Commission to condemn LAG’s exemption application.

Other groups who signed the joint submission included the Australian LGBTIQ Multicultural Council Inc., Drummond Street Services, Human Rights Law Centre, LGBTI Legal Service Inc., Melbourne Bisexual Network, Midsumma, Parents of Gender Diverse Children, Rainbow Community Angels, Switchboard, Trans Justice Project, Transgender Victoria, Transcend Australia and Zoe Belle Gender Collective.

The Victoria Pride Centre in St Kilda, where LAG hoped to hold their event, has also rejected the group’s application.

The Centre’s CEO, Justin Dalla Riva wrote in the rejection letter, made public by LAG: “Your request to hold an event that excludes and seeks to legally discriminate against people on the basis of their sex, sexuality and gender is inconsistent with the Pride Centre’s purpose.”

Lesbian Action Group co-convenor Carole Ann says the planned event is “not anti-trans” but “pro-lesbians who are born female”, Out in Perth reports.

“We are not asking for anyone to be denied who they are,” she said.

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“It is for us to also be recognised for who we are and have a bit of space for that and acknowledgement that our lived experience is different.”

According to LAG’s website, the group is linked to LGB Alliance Australia, which has been described by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights as transphobic.

Cavanagh concluded with the Dykes on Bikes club motto, which 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 will continue fighting against LAG’s discriminatory and inflammatory transphobic exemption request. There is space for all of us, and nobody needs to be excluded.”

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