11 Mar 2023

Women’s rights group apologises for choosing Richie Hardcore to speak

6:00 pm on 11 March 2023
Richie Hardcore

Richie Hardcore. Photo: Twitter

A women's rights group has apologised "without reservation" for its choice to have Richie Hardcore as a guest speaker as its International Women's Day event.

At least one of its keynote speakers withdrew because Hardcore was involved.

On 2 March, UN Women Aotearoa New Zealand announced on social media that Hardcore would speak at its DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for gender equality event on 8 March.

In the promotional announcement, the group said Hardcore was dedicated to making a difference to social issues that affect all communities around New Zealand.

It said he grew up with family violence and his experiences had formed his passion to "raise awareness, prompt discussion and inspire change".

But many were upset by UN Women Aotearoa New Zealand's choice to have Hardcore speak, and it has since issued an apology.

In a statement released on Twitter at 11pm on Friday, it said it was currently working to obtain all the facts but wanted the public to know that it was aware of its concerns - and it was listening.

"We apologise without reservation to our followers and the wider rainbow community who were hurt or felt disrespected by our choice of speaker.

"We are deeply troubled by the unintentional distress this has caused to the community that we love and protect.

"UN Women Aotearoa New Zealand upholds women's human rights to ensure that every woman and girl lives up to her full potential in Aotearoa, the Pacific and across the world."

The group said it was committed to standing with all who identified with the LGBTIQ+ community and to "amplify the voice of survivors and activists to reduce and prevent violence against all women and girls".

Keynote speaker Julia Arnott-Neenee, who is chief executive of Fibre Fale, withdrew from the event after learning of Hardcore's involvement.

In a statement, Fibre Fale said: "It has been brought to our attention that another speaker at the event, Richie Hardcore, has a history of being transphobic, supporting anti-trans rhetoric and taking up spaces that should be for women.

"With this new knowledge, we have immediately withdrawn our support and participation in the event."

Fibre Fale said it was disappointed in the lack of due diligence carried out by UN Women Aotearoa New Zealand given the event was designed around gender equality and inclusivity.

"We do not support Richie Hardcore being given a platform to speak for women as part of IWD 2023.

"We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors with the safety and wellbeing of our community as the heart of what we do - and we will not partake in this event, or any event, that does not align without our mission and values."

Women in Urbanism Aotearoa said it supported Arnott-Neenee's decision to withdraw from the event and applauded "her refusal to participate in platforming his views".

In a statement on twitter, Hardcore said he was "hurt and saddened" by the controversy. He said claims he had engaged in anti-trans rhetoric were false allegations and he had only expressed concerns about the safety of women in boxing and kickboxing.

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