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America has a problem, and so does Australia

Right now there is a focus on drag queen bans and trans rights, a lot of information, news and stories coming out of America currently. But did you know that the same thing is happening globally and not just in America?

Here in Australia drag queens are facing cancellations, safety issues and misrepresentation.

We have the "beloved" character of Dame Edna, yet the man who created that character himself and portrayed her, was transphobic.

It leads you to believe that this heterosexual man was in fact criticising drag queens and not celebrating them. In fact rather, it confirms it. He had previously mentioned that trans youth were "pretty evil", openly supported TERF writer Germaine Greer and had made many public comments about trans people that were disgusting and offensive with no form of apology ever following.

I mention this because it sets the stage for perceptions and nations in Australian society and gives you an example of the setting here in Australia.

The other day on our local ABC station I heard a recount from a drag queen in Goulburn who had recently had a reading event for children cancelled. The man who cancelled Betty Confetti's reading time with children, did so as they could not "ensure the safety of the councilmen". Not the performer, Betty, but in fact the councilmen. While it was important to protect the council staff as they had been receiving threats and harassment, it is another example of the lack of allyship and protection and promotion of LGBTQIA+ people and their rights here in Australia.

There are similar stories all around Australia too with a heavy emphasis on suburban or rural areas, where representation is needed the most.

On Thursday 18th of May, just only last week, Victorian councils were holding an emergency meeting to discuss the ever growing right wing extremists attacking LGBTQIA+ people after yet another drag storytime event was cancelled.

Australian legislation has very little to no mention of trans people, inter-sex people, Bi+ people, asexual, aromantic and gender diverse people. Without legislation and laws protecting them this sort of misinformation and scare tactics can be used in order to push certain agendas. Drag Queen bans are more representative of a larger problem at hand. By hiding behind "drag queen bans" governments are able to continue ignoring trans rights and even push the harm towards them.

With the anti drag bills coming out of America we can see this. The definitions of drag queens and examples given in these bills not only covers drag queens but also encompasses and attacks trans peoples rights and lives. Through thinly veiled wording that is not specific to drag performers but rather to anyone who is gender diverse, these governments are effectively hiding behind the terms drag queen in order to push not only a drag queen ban, but a transphobic agenda.

The 1984 Sex Discrimination Act was amended in 2013 to add that it is unlawful to discriminate someone on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status. This is the only federal law regarding trans and intersex persons however it is still not entirely inclusive and not enough to protect the rights and lives of the whole LGBTQIA+ community.

This also means that there is no federal law regarding vilification on the basis of sexuality and gender.

Vilification is when someone/s or groups etc use abusive discriminatory speech or writing. Such as that heinous women in the news as of late (she who must not be named) currently "touring" her hate speech across Aus and New Zealand.

Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia are the states without state legislation preventing vilification.

This came as a shock to me as typically these three states are viewed as more progressive and socially equitable. Now this may be due to reasons such as wanting to create effective and safe legislation. However in light of the past few years and activity going on it is needed now more than ever.

The Victorian Government keeps delaying their own vilification laws despite growing concerns of extremist right groups placing LGBTQIA+ community at risk.

Vilification laws are designed to stamp out ideology like this, now realistically we know this does not stop every single extremist but it does create a safety net and lower rates of vilification.

If we want to see the end of right wing extremist propaganda and harmful misinformation surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community, we need to ensure there are precautions and safe measures in place to uphold and create protection and empowerment for the community.

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