21 Mar 2023

Let anti-transgender activist in, National says, while Greens hold concerns for public safety

10:17 am on 21 March 2023
Anti-transgender activist Posie Parker with a trans flag in the background.

Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker. Photo: AFP

Political parties have differing views on a controversial UK anti-transgender activist being allowed to enter the country as Immigration New Zealand continues to review her case.

Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker, has planned to hold rallies at Albert Park in Auckland and Civic Square in Wellington this weekend.

Supporters of Keen-Minshull were seen performing Nazi salutes and abusing LGBTQIA counter-protesters at her event in Melbourne on Sunday.

But Terri Lipanovic, of the local Posie Parker organising committee, said Keen-Minshull was not anti-trans, she was simply "pro women's and children's safety".

Any neo-Nazis turning up at rallies in Auckland and Wellington this weekend will be told to leave, she said.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has not commented on Keen-Minshull's case following media reports, however she posted a video online saying to Hipkins:

"Revoke my visa at your peril.

"Roll the dice, my friend. I don't think you'll dare to keep me from coming into New Zealand. But we'll see."

National Party deputy leader Nicola Willis told First Up Immigration New Zealand would struggle to find evidence to keep Keen-Minshull out of the country and believed she should be allowed entry.

"This is a free and liberal democracy and part of that is that we believe in freedom of expression even when we really don't like the views of those that are expressing themselves freely.

"We uphold that right. And I'm a big believer that sunlight is a good disinfectant. Where people have views that some of us find abhorrent, sometimes the best thing is to allow others to respond with their counter views."

Willis said no-one was free to incite violence however, and if similar scenes were demonstrated here as were in Melbourne, the law should be used against them.

'It's almost like allowing Posie Parker becomes a Trojan Horse'

Transgender activist Sally Dellow told Midday Report there were concerns around safety and violence and the negative well-being impacts if the visit went ahead.

"Having the hateful and dangerous speech that Posie Parker is renowned for, given a voice in this country, exacerbates the issue that the trans community already feels under attack, so it doesn't help us improve well-being within the community in fact it causes increased distress in the community."

But the issue was not just limited to the trans community, she said.

"It's almost like allowing Posie Parker [into the country] becomes a Trojan Horse because ... the other associated views that she carries for other communities can come in with that, so it's the trans communities at the frontline, we are the target, but it's not just about us.

"If you are familiar with events in Melbourne last week, you'll be well aware that some of her supporters have far-right associations that would be offensive to many in New Zealanders."

The National Party's argument that this was free speech was "disingenuous", she said.

"The debate actually needs to be not about free speech, but about what is acceptable speech in New Zealand and what is unacceptable speech. And also that someone with a track record of dangerous and hateful speech should not be allowed into New Zealand to disseminate their views."

Dellow said it was very frustrating to be spending time and effort on addressing this issue, when it could instead be used to help the community.

"We'd much rather be focusing on uplifting our own community, looking at dealing with the mental health issues that we've got in the community, dealing with the safety and violence issues, dealing with the discrimination, ensuring their rights are met.

"Continually battling against dangerous and hateful speech, it just takes a lot of time from a group that has a very limited amount of time and could spend that time far more usefully."

Green Party speaks out

Green Party immigration spokesperson Ricardo Menéndez-March strongly opposed Keen-Minshull being allowed into Aotearoa.

"Having someone like Posie coming here to spew violence, and attracting the kind of neo-Nazi crowd they had in Australia could actually risk the well-being of rainbow communities and Muslim communities as well."

He told Morning Report Melbourne was not the first event where such scenes had been demonstrated, and there had become a trend of her attracting fascist groups and individuals.

As an event organiser, Menéndez-March said Keen-Minshull had a "duty of care" to not enable Nazis.

"The kind of rhetoric being spewed at those events is literally about the elimination of rainbow communities."

Menéndez-March said his argument was focused on Immigration New Zealand's ability to factor in public safety, rather than silencing her.

She had a "massive" audience online, he said, and no-one was stopping her from speaking there.

Women's groups respond

Keen-Minshull supporter Terri Lipanovic spoke to Morning Report, saying transgender women were "fully intact males" and should not be allowed "in our safe spaces".

Such spaces included toilets, showers, gym changing rooms and women's refuges, she said.

In response, Women's Refuge said they did provide services to transgender women, and that the safety of women and children was always their primary consideration.

Women's Refuge chief executive Ang Jury said the criticism was a ridiculous oversimplification of the process, which was designed to make an ugly point.

The refuge always applied common-sense alongside a rigorous assessment, Jury said.

Lipanovic said Keen-Minshull did not oppose trans rights but said women and children "need safe spaces" and "most men are good but we don't know who the bad ones are".

When asked what she would say to Keen-Minshull's well-documented links to extreme right-wing groups, she said: "Posie takes money from where it is offered".

In a statement, Women's Liberation Aotearoa spokesperson Tracy Bass said it was not supporting the planned events in any way.

"We do not hold women responsible for the appearance of these men at Let Women Speak events, but we call on Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull and the New Zealand organisations and individuals supporting her events to make public statements opposing far right and fascist groups and politics, and making it plain that there is no place for such groups at Let Women Speak events.

"WLA in not supporting the events in any capacity as an organisation and we encourage our members to consider staying away unless such clear public statements are forth coming."

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