The Premier of Victoria, Dan Andrews, has strongly condemned the actions of anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrators and neo-Nazis who threatened to shut down a drag queen library event in Monash through intimidation and death threats. Andrews delivered his statement on the floor of the state legislature, in which he advised those who wanted to act like the most extreme members of the Republican Party to visit Florida, where their bigotry may be appreciated. He made it clear that such behavior is not acceptable in Victoria, where such individuals are considered worthless.
The Oakleigh Library at Monash University had planned a drag queen story time in honor of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, which quickly filled to capacity. The event aimed to expose children to positive role models from diverse backgrounds and encourage them to appreciate diversity. However, hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ and pro-drag protesters showed up at a Monash city council meeting in late April to oppose the event, following hateful and threatening commentary and misinformation that circulated online.
Organizations such as My Place and Reignite Democracy Australia, which are known for their conspiracy theories and far-right views, reportedly organized the anti-LGBTQ+ protest. The protesters hurled insults at pro-drag eventgoers and council members, with some calling them “f**got,” “groomer,” “pedo,” and “rapist.” They also carried posters with messages like “Save Our Children” and “Don’t DRAG our kids into this,” shouting down pro-drag speakers and calling them pedophiles.
The atmosphere was “vile” and “quite intimidating,” according to one resident of Monash who attended the meeting. The angry crowd hurled insults and forced police to create a line in front of pro-drag activists in the municipal council foyer. Drag performer Sam T claimed she was threatened with death, while Thomas Sewell, leader of the National Socialist Network, Australia’s largest neo-Nazi organization, reportedly said on Telegram that he planned to “bring as many Nazis as possible” to the gathering. Council members also received threats of violence.
Following discussions with Victoria Police, the city decided to cancel the event. However, Josh Fergeus, a member of the council, accused the police of being negligent in their duty to protect the safety of the event and the government of not doing enough to counter violent extremism. In March, neo-Nazis opposed transgender rights in front of the state legislature, leading to a proposal to outlaw the sieg-heil salute in Victoria.
Inappropriate comments were also received by members of the LGBTIQA+ community and council members at work, according to Andi Diamond, the city’s CEO. Diamond expressed regret that not everyone supported the freedom of choice to attend the event, which was planned when there were no other library activities.
Premier Dan Andrews spoke out against the protesters, emphasizing that the event was about sending a message of love, respect, and safety to the most vulnerable people in Victoria’s community. He made it clear that equality is not open for discussion and that such crude conduct would not be tolerated. He stressed that the behavior of the anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrators and neo-Nazis was nothing but blatantly racist rhetoric and went against the beliefs of most reasonable and upstanding Victorians.
Andrews urged the community to move on from those who hold such views and to focus on supporting every single Victorian, regardless of who they are or whom they love. He emphasized that the administration and the community are devoted to promoting diversity and inclusivity, despite the antics of a tiny minority.