Deves says he received death threats, after transphobic comments
Controversial Liberal candidate Katherine Deves has broken her silence on the issue of transgender children playing sport in school, saying it is an issue that needs to be debated but in a “dignified” way.
Deves, who was handpicked by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to run for the Sydney headquarters in Warringah, sparked a national debate on the issue after her long history of transphobic comments emerged.
She told SBS World News on Sunday night that she recognized the way she presented her case “was not conducive to proper and reasonable debate.”
Deves said she was “very scolded” by the process and would not engage on social media.
“I recognize that trying to pursue arguments on complex, nuanced and difficult topics … shouldn’t take place on a platform that propagates offense, division and hurt,” she said.
“And, in the future, I will conduct myself in a dignified and respectful manner.”
Asked about her message to young and vulnerable trans children, she said the issue was one of women’s rights.
“With this issue, we have a collision of rights and – until now – the voices of women and girls have not been heard.
“And when we have a collision of rights, in liberal democracies we debate it in a reasonable and measured way.”
The contestant revealed she had received death threats and now police are involved, with her family temporarily leaving Sydney for their safety.
She said she was unaware that her candidacy was being used to bolster Conservative votes in other parts of the country.
“If there are other mechanisms at play, I don’t know them.”
Earlier, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews went to bat for trans children taking part in school sports competitions.
“It seems to me that the adults in this debate are way more cruel than the children, and that’s a damning accusation for those pushing this,” he told reporters.
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“What’s next? A trans girl can’t play a female role in the school play? Like, is that the biggest problem in our country today? I don’t don’t think that’s the case.
“Only desperate people, who are into corner politics, who are trying to look away from the fact that they have been in power for almost a decade and have done precisely nothing with it, would push this. “
The premier argued that sports bodies had already established protocols for trans women competing at professional and elite amateur levels, and suggested the school sport aspect was not an issue.
He said no school community, parent or teacher had broached the subject with him in his 20 years in the Victorian Parliament.
“Trans kids are 15 times more likely to self-harm. I don’t think this debate is doing these young Victorians any good, or their parents,” Andrews said.
“It’s not easy being trans. There’s a lot of stigma. There’s a lot of prejudice. I don’t think adding to that is particularly nice. I think it’s cruel, actually. “
In Queensland, the Greens have criticized Cross State MP Ben Robbie Katter’s threat to ban trans athletes from competing in women’s sport.
On Friday, Australia’s Party MP for Katter threatened to introduce legislation in Queensland if the next federal government does not introduce a nationwide ban within 90 days of its formation.
Green MP Amy McMahon said transgender people already face widespread discrimination, hatred and even violence on a daily basis.
Deves campaigned to ban transgender women from playing in women’s leagues, likening her protests to an attempt to stop the Holocaust.
Morrison said Deves knew a “sensitive approach” was needed going forward to discuss trans athletes in women’s and women’s sport, and defended her refusal to face the press kit.
“It’s not that common for those who are local candidates to be involved in national press conferences,” the prime minister said in Alice Springs.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said last week that his party’s stance was in line with the Sex Discrimination Act, putting him at odds with Mr Andrews.
“It’s covered that girls should be able to play sports against girls and boys should be able to play sports against boys,” he told reporters on Wednesday.