Far-Right Wins Again As A Melbourne Council Cancels Drag Storytime Over Death Threats

Far-Right Wins Again As A Melbourne Council Cancels Drag Storytime Over Death Threats
Image: Protestors turned up at Monash City Council meeting on April 26, 2023, to protest IDAHOBIT Drag Storytime event

Far-right threats and protests have forced another local Melbourne council to cancel its Drag Storytime event. 

A week after far-right protestors and United Australia Party Senator Ralph Babet turned up at a council meeting to oppose an IDAHOBIT event, Monash City Council on Thursday announced that it was cancelling a family-friendly Drag Storytime event scheduled for later this month over death threats. 

“Monash Council’s Drag Storytime IDAHOBIT event has been cancelled after a briefing by Victoria Police advising of the risks to the safety of staff, attendees and Council facilities. In the interests of safety, the event will not proceed,” the council said in a statement. 

Conservative Christian group Family Voices Australia celebrated the cancellation of the event. “The cancellation of this event is a huge victory for the right of children to be free from LGBT indoctrination,” claimed Peter Downie, National Director FVA.

Council Apologises To LGBTQI Community

According to the Council, councillors, staff, families, who had bought tickets to the event, and performers had received hateful, threatening messages and even death threats. As the day of the event drew nearer, the messages threatened actual violence at the event. 

“This event has attracted significant attention with hateful and threatening commentary and misinformation spread online, via email and directly over the phone. It is incredibly disappointing to have to cancel an event designed to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia but we were left with no choice after Victoria Police advised Council of the risks associated with holding the event,” Monash CEO Dr Andi Diamond said in a statement.

“Our drag storytime event was designed to introduce children to diverse role models and encourage acceptance, love, and respect of our LGBTIQA+ community. It is so disappointing that some people have a long way to go before this is achieved.”

Monash CEO apologised to the LGBTQI community. “I hope they (the LGBTQI community) understand we did not make this decision lightly and we share their disappointment; Council remains committed to delivering on the outcomes and goals of our recently endorsed LGBTIQA+ Action Plan,” said the CEO. 

Monash City councillor Josh Fergus denounced the threats of violence, abuse and statements that he termed “could reasonably be understood as terrorism.”

Dan Andrews Slams Threats

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews condemned the threats of violence against the LGBTQI community.

Once again, Victoria’s LGBTQI+ community and entertainers have come under attack by hate groups – this time out in my neck of the woods, the City of Monash. And it’s more than just placards and yelling – some councillors have received death threats,” said Premier Andrews in a statement. 

“Just imagine for a moment making a death threat over a story time for kids. Because that’s all it is. So to all those people who choose to waste their energy on making people in our state feel unsafe, hear this: This Americanisation of our politics has no place here. And your hateful views don’t either. Not now. Not ever,’ added the Premier.

Since April, three drag events have been cancelled following threats and protests from groups that comprise a broad coalition of neo-Nazis, far-right protestors, Christian Conservatives, anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists.

Casey and Boroondara city councils cancelled events that featured drag performers and were scheduled to take place in April and May. Last month, a Melbourne cafe owner had to similarly cancel an Easter crafts and games event for children hosted by drag queens after facing a barrage of online threats, including one that threatened to find and share the home addresses of performers.

This followed other protests against public drag performances last year. In September 2022, drag performances by Belial B’zaar and other drag performers at an end-of-school-holidays event at Moonee Pond were targeted by members of the far-right Nationalist Socialist Network.  In December 2022, a 34-year-old suspected Proud Boys member was arrested after the group protested a drag event (which was cancelled following threats) at the Victorian Pride Centre in St Kilda.

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