MEMBERS of the Chinese-Australian community tabled an anti-Safe Schools petition with the Victorian Opposition earlier today.
The petition has an alleged 5,000 signatures and appears to have been coordinated in part by previously failed Liberal candidate Gladys Liu and Liberal MP Graham Watt, whose name appears at the bottom of each signed page.
Calling on the public to oppose the LGBTI-inclusive program, the petition was accompanied by a flyer outlining the reasons it had been created.
“Stop Safe Schools programs teaching our children homosexual ideas and practice,” it read.
“Stop stealing our children from our own culture and values.
“Protect parents rights and say ‘no’ to the un-Safe Schools program.”
Banners propped up outside of parliament house today also read, when translated: “Safe Schools is not safe. Let us take action to protect our children together.”
While Liu declined to comment, she held the signed petition close to her as she led a group of Chinese men, women, and children through to the private presentation to Liberal MPs in parliament house.
The crowd also drew former Rise Up Australia candidate Peter Dorian, who held a sign suggesting the Safe Schools program would ‘indoctrinate’ children to become pedophiles.
“They’re talking to children and getting them to imagine sexual practices – anyone with an IQ over five knows whatever you say to a child, they’ll imitate,” he said.
“We [petition signees] are very offended when strangers come in and start psychologically sexually abusing our children. It’s evil.”
Minister for Equality Martin Foley said the government wouldn’t be backing down from its equality agenda.
“I’m disappointed that some members of the opposition have sought to misrepresent the plans around Safe Schools, because Safe Schools is all about decency and treating kids as who they are,” he said.
“The sad truth is young people from sexual and gender diverse backgrounds are disproportionately represented in dropping out of school, in self harm, in homeless, and in drug abuse because of discrimination – that’s why Safe Schools is important.
“I’ve been concerned when I’ve seen some of this material [in the petition] in translation, particularly from those associated with the opposition who are playing this out in the Chinese community.”
Foley said he believed the protest was coming from a place of misinformation and a lack of understanding, and stated the government was planning to hold a conference around LGBTI issues to engage with culturally diverse communities.
It is also understood that Foley sat down with the Chinese media yesterday to explain the program and address their misconceptions – which seemed to primarily be around gender and what it would mean for students using school bathrooms.
“We take the concerns of the Chinese community very seriously but some of the material we’ve seen, particularly promoted by those in association with the Liberal party, is at best misconceived and at worst deliberately so,” he said.
“We want to make sure those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities are engaged and understand the importance of the government’s equality agenda.”