Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew has slammed protesters who performed the Nazi salute during an anti-transgender rally that quickly turned violent, telling them Nazis are ‘not welcome’ in the state.
Large crowds of protesters from two competing rallies clashed in the streets of Melbourne over LGBTQI+ issues as an anti-transgender activist, Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, continues her speaking tour of Australia on Saturday.
The ugly display has already sparked calls for tougher laws to crack down on white supremacists from one Victorian MP, who said the display on parliament’s steps was ‘unacceptable’.
Ms Keen-Minshull, who goes by the moniker Posie Parker, is a British woman who founded group Standing for Women.
She describes herself as a women’s rights activist, but she is mostly known for her anti-transgender opinions.
Members of the far-right National Socialist Movement on Saturday crashed a demonstration between pro-transgender and anti-transgender activists in Melbourne CBD
The group performed the Nazi salute which was quickly condemned and sparked calls for tougher laws to crack down on white supremacists
It is not suggested she had any link with Saturday’s violence.
But her controversial views are believed to have sparked the tense clash between anti-trans and pro-trans activists in front of Victoria’s Parliament House.
Masked men gave Nazi salutes in Melbourne’s CBD when they crashed the demonstration between pro-transgender and anti-transgender activists.
Their stunt has sparked outrage in the community, including a fiery rebuke from Mr Andrews on Sunday.
He condemned the protesters and said they’re attempt to ‘spread hate’ was not welcome
‘I wish it didn’t have to be said, but clearly it does: Nazis aren’t welcome,’ Mr Andrews wrote on Twitter.
‘Not on Parliament’s steps. Not anywhere.
‘They were there to say the trans community don’t deserve rights, safety or dignity.
‘That’s what Nazis do. Their evil ideology is to scapegoat minorities – and it’s got no place here.
‘And those who stand with them don’t, either.’
Mr Andrews said his government will ‘always support’ trans people in Victoria.
‘And we’ll always respect you,’ he said.
‘Because your rights are not negotiable.’
Anti-transgender activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull (right) has been speaking at engagements outside state parliaments this week
Ms Keen-Minshull arguing with pro-trans supporters on Saturday
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew (pictured with wife wife Catherine) slammed protesters who performed the Nazi salute during an anti-transgender rally that quickly turned violent, telling them Nazis are ‘not welcome’ in the state
Dozens of protesters gathered outside Parliament House on Spring St about midday.
The rally attracted a heavy police presence in the area including officers from the public order response team and the mounted branch.
The group of men, dressed in black, performed multiple Nazi salutes while holding a sign that read: ‘Destroy Paedo Freaks.’
At least 30 members of the far-right Nationalist Socialist Movement were seen marching down Melbourne’s Spring St in support of Ms Keen-Minshull.
The men were all wearing black and some of the marchers wore balaclava-type masks during the protest.
The group was seen shouting slurs at transgender activists and performing the Nazi salute as they stood on the steps of parliament.
They were opposed by an even larger group of people advocating for transgender issues, who were heard chanting ‘Posie Parker you can’t hide, you’ve got Nazis on your side’.
The chant has been used at other rallies against the anti-trans speaker across the country.
Victoria Police tried to keep both groups separate, but there were some clashes between the two sides.
Macnamara MP Josh Burns called for some tougher laws to be considered after yesterday’s event.
‘The ugly alliance between anti-trans bullies and neo-Nazis on display in the city today was extremely confronting,’ Mr Burns wrote on social media.
‘Both groups seek to bully and blame minority groups in their dark ideology.
‘Scapegoating minorities is their business model, and it has no place in Australia.
‘History showed that minorities, including the LGBTIQA+ community, have been targeted before.
‘It’s nasty, it’s bigoted and it should be called out.
‘The brazen marching with neo-Nazi salutes in front of the Victorian Parliament is unacceptable.
‘This is a time for us to consider whether tougher laws are needed.’
Police presence at the protest was heavy, with officers trying to keep both groups separate
Victoria Police said it was on site at the rally to keep the peace between the different groups
It’s estimated there were about 400 people there to support Ms Keen-Minshull – but pro-transgender supporters outnumbered them at least 2:1.
It’s unclear at this stage if there have been an arrests or serious injury, as the event is still ongoing.
Victoria Police confirmed they were aware of the gathering.
‘There is a highly visible police presence in the area to ensure there are no breaches of the peace and to keep the community safe,’ said a police spokesman.
Ms Keen-Minshull’s tour started in Sydney last Saturday, and includes stops in Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart, and Canberra, before heading to New Zealand.
The contentious speaker was also met with protest action at other stops, although it’s understood this is the first time her supporters have clashed with pro-trans groups on the tour.
She has made headlines in recent months after a speaker at one of her events quoted Adolf Hitler.
The anti-trans activist was critical of a member of Britain’s House of Commons mentioning murdered US trans teen Brianna Ghey in an International Women’s Day speech.