On Saturday, large crowds of protesters clashed in the streets of Melbourne over LGBTQI+ issues as anti-transgender activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull continued her speaking tour of Australia.
Ms. Keen-Minshull, who goes by the moniker Posie Parker, founded the group Standing for Women and is known for her anti-transgender opinions.
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.
During the protest, masked men gave Nazi salutes in Melbourne’s CBD when they crashed the demonstration between pro-transgender and anti-transgender activists.
The Nazi salutes have sparked outrage in the community, including a fiery rebuke from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday.
He condemned the protesters and said their attempt to “spread hate” was not welcome.
Mr. Andrews said his government will “always support” trans people in Victoria and will always respect their rights.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside Parliament House on Spring St about midday, attracting a heavy police presence in the area, including officers from the public order response team and the mounted branch.
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 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.”
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 the event.
He said that “the brazen marching with neo-Nazi salutes in front of the Victorian Parliament is unacceptable,” and that this is a time to consider whether tougher laws are needed.
It’s estimated that about 400 people were 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 any arrests or serious injuries, as the event is still ongoing.
Victoria Police confirmed they were aware of the gathering and had a highly visible police presence in the area to ensure there were no breaches of the peace and to keep the community safe.
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.
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.