Dramatic scenes unfolded inside the NSW Parliament House on Tuesday morning when a group of transgender  rights activists successfully disrupted the parliamentary committee hearings chaired by Mark Latham of his anti-trans education bill.

The first day of the two-day committee hearings commenced at NSW Parliament House on Tuesday. A group of 20 transgender rights activists who had lawfully entered the public gallery stood up in protest and one of the protestor’s yelled at Latham “You’re a disgrace”.

A report claimed that the Parliament security had their hands on their pistols in their holsters. The activists who protested peacefully, offered no resistance when the constables led them out of Parliament House.

 

Protestors Yell at Mark Latham

Tabled by NSW One Nation Party MP Latham, The Education Legislation Amendment 2020 (Parental Freedoms) Bill if passed, would completely prohibit any mention of transgender issues and identity in schools and make it a sackable offence for teachers to support trans students.

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“We had a protest on Saturday against the bill, which was excellent. We had around 500 people come out to protest. We picked that day because it was a couple of days before the committee hearings began,” said April Holcombe co-convener of Community Action for Rainbow Rights, who led the group at Wednesday morning’s protest inside the NSW parliament.

“Today was the first day of the hearing, which is chaired by Mark Latham himself,” said Holcombe.

“We wanted to work off the momentum of Saturday and keep the pressure up. We aimed to disrupt the proceedings.  So, as soon as Latham began the hearing, I stood up and denounced him. About a dozen other protesters who came with me, all stood up and chanted until he was forced to leave the room. I think we made our point clear.”

Transgender rights activists protested against Mark Latham’s transphobic Education bill during a parliamentary hearing inside NSW Parliament House on Tuesday morning.

Latham’s Transphobic Bill

The Bill, which has received widespread condemnation from a number of individuals and advocacy groups from across the country, is as Holcombe describes it, “One of the most extreme bills that have been put to parliament this century.”

“It is worse than any other bill put to Parliament around LGBTQI rights. It would, across all schools in NSW, completely prohibit the teaching of gender fluidity and the notion that gender is a social construct and not rooted in biology.”

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Despite NSW One Nation leader having previously tried to spin the bill as “re-establishing the primacy of parents in shaping their children’s development and sense of identity”, as Holcombe explains it, it opens up the possibility that any teacher or counsellor in a school who is seen to support a trans kid, could be seen as endorsing gender fluidity and can be immediately sacked. Not only that, they can also have their accreditation stripped from them.

Bill Is An Attack On Young Trans People

“It’s a severe attack on workers’ rights, it’s a severe attack on young trans people who have the right to a safe school, and it’s an attack on all kids who have the right to learn about this in school. It isn’t just a trans issue either, because it actually gives conservative parents the right to withdraw students from any class about sexuality or religion that they deem to be against their own beliefs.

“We need to remember that children have their own rights and are not just the property of their parents.” Holcombe adds.

Unfortunately, this bill is just one of two current attacks levelled by Latham and the One Nation Party designed to erode the basic rights of LGBTQI young people and broader communities.

Latham is also seeking an amendment to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act- a move which seeks to grant schools, charities and even some private businesses strong protections from anti-discrimination laws.

More worrying is that Latham’s push to amend the Anti-Discrimination Act has been endorsed by the majority of a fourteen- person parliamentary committee, including by members of both the Liberals and the ALP.

More Protests Planned Against Latham’s Bills

It is because of this double edge sword, that more protests are being planned by Community Action for Rainbow Rights.

“The fight is not over. Both bills are about protecting the right to discriminate not about religious freedoms. Because we are facing a number of different attacks at the moment, our next demonstration on June 5th at Sydney Town Hall will be about taking on all of these bills,” said Holcombe.

“There might be broad support in the political class for the right to discriminate but there is mass opposition in the general population against that right, but that opposition has to be turned into action if its going to stop these politicians.” Holcombe concludes.

The hearing is set to continue tomorrow. Star Observer will be providing further updates in due course.

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

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