NSW Liberal candidate Katherine Deves, one of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s “captain’s pick” candidates has deleted her Instagram and Twitter accounts after her past homophobic and transphobic social media posts came to light.
Trigger Warning: This story discusses transphobic comments, which might be distressing to some readers. 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.
Deves, co-founder of the Save Women’s Sport group that aims to stop trans women from competing in female sports, is a Liberal candidate for the crucial seat of Warringah, which is currently held by Independent Zali Steggall.
News.com.au reported that in social media posts Deves had described trans kids as “surgically mutilated and sterilised” and in another post had said she was “triggered” by the LGBTQI Rainbow Pride flag.
Deves Apologises For ‘Language’
In one of the posts, Deves shared a photo of a trans teenager, who had their breasts removed. “This photo just hit my feed. It is beyond heartbreaking,” she posted.
A May 2021 post said she was triggered by the Rainbow Pride flag. “I get triggered by it. Whenever I see it on social media I think ‘What now? What are they demanding now?’ And I grew up with gay relatives and siblings and hung out in Surry Hills and X in Sydney in the 1990s. Lots of LGB family and friends, their movement has been destroyed.”
Following the publication of the news report, Deves, who had previously deleted the messages, deleted her social media accounts. In a statement, she apologised not for her views but for the language she had used.
“My advocacy for the rights and safety of women and girls is well known, and I stand by my desire to ensure we protect the safety of women and girls and our entire community. However, the language I used was not acceptable, and for that I apologise,” Deves said in a statement.
Morrison Had Described Deves As ‘Outstanding’
This comes just days after Morrison backed the anti-transgender bills proposed by Deves and Tasmanian Senator Claire Chandler.
“Katherine Deves over there in Warringah, you know, she‘s standing up for something really important, and that is to ensure that, you know, when it comes to girls playing sport and women playing sport, that they’re playing against people of the same sex,” Morrison had told the media.
“Katherine is, you know, an outstanding individual. And she’s standing up for things that she believes in, and I share her views on those topics. This is just about, you know, common sense and what’s right. And I think Katherine’s right on the money there,” the Prime Minister had said.
Morrison "Katherine (Deves) is an outstanding individual .. I share her views."
Reporter "she described transgender children as .. mutilated .. (she's) triggered by the rainbow pride flag"
— Squizz (@SquizzSTK) April 13, 2022
On Wednesday, when a reporter reminded Morrison of his statements, he sought to walk back and even distanced the government from Senator Chandler’s bill.
— 🌏 Zali Steggall MP (@zalisteggall) April 13, 2022
Independent MP Steggal called on the Liberal Party to “disendorse Deves”. Steggal said that the fact that Deves deleted her social media posts showed that “she knew just how toxic, ill-informed and offensive her comments and views were.”
“Her appalling and divisive comments were well known before the Prime Minister selected her, which begs the question – what did he already know? He either knew her views and selected her anyway, or he wasn’t properly informed and made a flawed decision. It’s either deliberately offensive or a sign of incompetence.”
PM Looking For Wedge Issues, Says Anthony Albanese
2/3 The candidate may have apologised for the language she used, but the kind of misinformation she has perpetuated results in the extreme levels of marginalisation of trans people, and some of the worst mental health outcomes in the community.
— Equality Australia 🌈 (@EqualityAu) April 13, 2022
LGBTQI advocacy group Equality Australia said while Deves might have apologised the harm she has caused by her comments continues to impact the trans community.
“The Liberal Party’s candidate for Warringah’s comments about transgender people and our families are an example of the dehumanising abuse that trans people, and the broader LGBTIQ+ community, encounter every day.The candidate may have apologised for the language she used, but the kind of misinformation she has perpetuated results in the extreme levels of marginalisation of trans people, and some of the worst mental health outcomes in the community,” said the organisation.
Equality Australia called on all parties and candidates “to treat trans and gender diverse people with dignity and respect.”
Labor leader Anthony Albanese slammed the Prime Minister saying he needs to do his “day job” and not seek out divisive issues.
“His day job is about things that he’s responsible for – not look for wedges and dividing Australia. This Prime Minister is always looking for the division. My role as someone who’s campaigning for a national leadership role is to unite the country, not look for divisions,” Albanese told the media.
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.