FORMER Victorian premier Denis Napthine’s support for a cartoon published in the Herald Sun that has been condemned as transphobic has attracted wide criticism from political and community figures.

The cartoon, a response by cartoonist Mark Knight to comparisons between current Victorian Labor premier Daniel Andrews and former Labor premier Joan Kirner, depicts a woman on a park bench reading a newspaper about US celebrity Bruce Jenner.

The woman is saying, “Kim Kardashian’s step-father is transitioning from being a man to a woman… you don’t see that every day do you?” as Daniel Andrews walks past in the polka-dot dress Kirner was usually drawn wearing in political cartoons during her time as premier.

“Great article by experienced state political journalist John Ferguson in The Australian on 25 April followed by magnificent cartoon by Mark Knight in today’s Herald Sun,” said Napthine in a post of the cartoon on his Facebook page (pictured above).

The cartoon and Napthine’s comments were quickly condemned on social media, by community members and politicians.

Upper house Labor MP Harriet Shing, the first out woman in Victorian Parliament, also weighed in on Napthine’s comments on her Facebook page.

“This is, in my opinion, just one of the reasons that LGBTI people don’t trust the Libs to engage in any respectful dialogue about (the) sorts of discrimination and prejudice that cause enormous pain and upset,” she said.

“A disgrace on so many levels, surely (they) are better than this.”

Transgender Victoria Executive Director Sally Goldner told the Star Observer that using trans* people “for laughs” could have very serious consequences for their health and wellbeing.

“This is particularly important in light of all the research, including the recent report from Curtin University showing trans and gender diverse people are four times more likely to be depressed and 50 per cent more likely suffer anxiety than the population at large,” she said.

“For a senior politician, regardless of political persuasion, to endorse the cartoon as ‘magnificent’ is of concern, particularly in light of the recent launch of the state LGBTI Parliamentary friendship group which aims to ensure better outcomes legally and socially for all LGBTI people, including trans and gender diverse.

“Also, in line with relevant law, we would not accept any response of “no offence was intended.”

Equality Minister Martin Foley called on the opposition to distance themselves from Napthine’s comments.

“Either the equality spokesperson or their leader needs to distance themselves from those comments,” Foley told the Star Observer, arguing Napthine was hypocritical in making the comments after making a fuss of being the first Victorian premier to attend LGBTI festival Midsumma in 2014.

“Sadly, the actual cartoon reflected how far we’ve still got to go in making particularly trans issues and gender diverse issues a part of the LGBTI equality framework.”

Shadow Minister for Equality David Davis outlined the former Premier’s successes on LGBTI issues, and said the cartoon had been misinterpreted.

“Denis Napthine was the first Victorian Premier to open the Midsumma festival, he passed Australia’s first expungement legislation and this cartoon is clearly a political statement that Daniel Andrews is morphing into a hard left, ideological, Joan Kirner,” he told the Star Observer.

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