Women Speak Tasmania is scheduled to speak at a Human Rights Week event for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) on 12 December next.
On 30 November, former Anti-discrimination Commissioner, Robin Banks, emailed WILPF with the following …
‘I am writing out of concern for WILPF, having just seen the invitation to your human rights week event at which you have Women Speak Tasmania as the speakers.
I anticipate that the reason you have invited this group is their apparent promotion of women’s rights. Sadly, this is not a group that support human rights for all.
They have, at present, a nasty and untruthful campaign targeting members of Tasmania’s gender diverse community. They do not support the human rights of people who are gender diverse. Indeed, they deny their very humanity and existence.
The giving to this group a platform for their hateful views by WILPF will be seen by many in the LGBTIQ community as an endorsement by WILPF of those views. This is the very real potential to damage the reputation of an extraordinary and compassionate long-standing human rights group.
If there is any way that I can help you to negotiate what I think is a very difficult situation, I am happy to do so
Ms Banks’ statements clearly amount to vilification of the Women Speak Tasmania speakers, and are just as clearly defamatory of them.
In Human Rights Week, it is disappointing to see a person of Ms Banks’ experience in this area seeking to undermine the rights of any group to freely express their opinion.
We are particularly concerned Ms Banks has offered unsolicited advice to WILPF and in doing so has attacked the credibility of Women Speak Tasmania with arrogance and unashamed impunity.
Women Speak Tasmania members will be submitting a claim to the Tasmanian Anti-discrimination Commissioner on the grounds that Ms Banks’ email has insulted, humiliated and ridiculed them.
We may also consider a defamation action.
EARLIER, by Matthew Denholm in The Australian …
Women say they’re being stopped from speaking at a forum over opposition to Tasmania transgender laws …
Two feminists have accused a former anti-discrimination commissioner of trying to stop them from speaking at a human rights forum because of their opposition to transgender reforms.
Bronwyn Williams and Isla MacGregor were invited by the Tasmanian branch of the global Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom to give a speech at an event in Hobart on Wednesday next week.
The two women, whose Women Speak Tasmania group is a vocal critic of transgender reforms before the Tasmanian parliament, were to speak about “Transgenderism and the impact on the human rights of women and girls”.
However, in an email to the WILPF, obtained by The Australian, former state anti-discrimination commissioner Robin Banks — a key advocate of the transgender reforms — warns the organisation against giving the duo a platform.
“The giving to this group a platform for their hateful views … will be seen by many in the LGBTIQ community as an endorsement of those views,” Ms Banks wrote to prominent WILPF members on Friday.
“This is (sic) the very real potential to damage the reputation of an extraordinary and compassionate longstanding human rights group.
“If there is any way that I can help you to negotiate what I think is a very difficult situation, I am happy to do so.”
Miss Williams and Ms MacGregor said Ms Banks’ email was a blatant and “gobsmacking” attempt to “no platform” them.
“It’s an attack on freedom of speech, particularly the rights of women to participate in public debate on issues that relate to their human rights,” said Ms MacGregor, who has addressed past WILPF events.
However, Ms Banks denied seeking to have the women banned from speaking. “It was not my intention that WILPF prevent Women Speak Tasmania from speaking, but rather (I was) hoping that WILPF would seek to balance Isla MacGregor and Bronwyn Williams’ views with those of others,” Ms Banks said.
The two women were unsure if their talk would go ahead but WILPF immediate past president Linley Grant insisted it would.
“They will be speaking,” Ms Grant said. “(Ms Banks) suggested someone else might like to speak as a counter balance and we are considering that.”
Miss Williams and Ms MacGregor have lobbied MPs to block Labor and Greens amendments that would end the automatic inclusion of a baby’s sex on its birth certificate, allow people to change official gender merely via statutory declaration, and extend anti-hate speech laws to include “gender expression”.
They warn the reforms, to be voted on in March, could jeopardise the safety and sanctity of female-only organisations and services, from domestic violence shelters to the Girl Guides.
In her email to WILPF’s Tasmania president and immediate past president, Ms Banks claims Women Speak Tasmania has a “nasty and untruthful campaign targeting members of Tasmania’s gender diverse community”.
“They do not support the human rights of people who are gender diverse,” wrote Ms Banks. “Indeed, they deny their very humanity and existence.”
Ms MacGregor and Miss Williams said these statements were “lies”. “We absolutely support their (transgender people’s) rights,” Ms MacGregor said.
Bronwyn Williams is a retired lawyer and social worker
Isla MacGregor is a women’s human rights and free speech advocate
Women Speak Tasmania is a network of women and their supporters based in Tasmania. We operate as a secular group. We are not aligned with any political party or ideology. We share research and information on a broad range of women’s rights issues. These include – female only spaces, services, groups and facilities; the sexualisation of girls and women; pornography/prostitution and the harms of the global sex trade; surrogacy as a violation of women’s human rights; and ending male violence against girls and women. We understand that sex-based oppression affects all women, and underlies all abuses of female rights. We support the right of women to speak freely about the inequities and discrimination they experience. We aim to give a voice to girls and women in the pursuit of justice, peace and security. We support full autonomy and personal freedom for all women.