Go to Florida: Australian Premier Lambasts Opponents of Drag Queen Event for Kids

Go to Florida: Australian Premier Lambasts Opponents of Drag Queen Event for Kids
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to media during a press conference in Melbourne, Australia, on March 7, 2023. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)
Daniel Y. Teng

State leader Daniel Andrews has delivered a stinging tirade at families and Melbourne locals who opposed a drag storytime event at a public library.

In a speech to the Victorian Parliament, the Labor premier labelled the actions of those protesting the Monash City Council's decision as "shameful."

Andrews claimed it was "not an exercise in free speech but an exercise in hate speech, bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia—the list goes on."

"My message to those people is very [clear], if you want to behave like the worst elements of the Floridian Republican Party, well, get to Florida. Get over there where your hateful views might be worth something. They're worth nothing here," he told sitting MPs on May 4.

On Twitter, the premier wrote, "Just imagine for a moment making a death threat over a story time for kids. Because that's all it is."

"This Americanisation of our politics has no place here," he added.

Florida Takes Strong Stance on Gender Ideology

The Republican Florida administration has taken a strong stance against drag storytime events, which typically feature cross-dressers or transgender performers reading stories to young children—all funded by the taxpayer.

In early February, the state cancelled the liquor license of an Orlando performance venue, saying its "Drag Queen Christmas" event was marketed towards families and children, despite the content being sexually explicit.

"Rather than call attention to the Show’s sexually explicit content or acknowledge that it might not be appropriate for children, Respondent’s promotional material unequivocally stated 'all ages welcome,'" according to Florida's Department of Business in a complaint filed against the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation on Feb. 3.

In response to Andrew's comments, former Victorian Liberal MP Neil Angus said the left faction of the Victorian Labor Party was fully in control.

"[Premier Andrews] continues to pander to the hard left of his party, as evidenced by his repeated strong support for what are, in reality, minority views, especially in the area of sexual identity," he told The Epoch Times.

In March, the Labor government flew the transgender flag following a rally in the Melbourne city centre against transgenders entering women's spaces.

"Some of Andrew's comments could be an attempt by the premier to try and attract far-left voters, who would often be Greens voters," Angus said.

Community Uproar Over Drag Storytime

In late April, a Monash City Council meeting in Melbourne’s east was met by over 150 community members protesting the drag storytime event to be held at Oakleigh Library—a taxpayer-funded institution.

Families were invited to sign-up kids (aged one to six) to a “sparkling morning of stories and songs to inspire young readers” hosted by Lisa and a “special guest”, Sam T, aimed at spreading the message of “equality and appreciation of diversity.”

Mayor Tina Samardzija temporarily suspended the council meeting midway through some community members began chanting phrases like “shame on you.” A smaller group of about 30 supporters for the drag storytime was also present.

Police were called in to maintain order.

On May 4, the Monash Council CEO Andi Diamond announced that the event had been cancelled following alleged threats.

"Councillors and staff have received messages that nobody should be expected to receive in their workplace, as have our LGBTIQA+ community. In recent days these threats have escalated to direct threats of violence involving the event itself," she said in a statement.

Victorian Senator Ralph Babet said there was “overwhelming public displeasure” from the community.

“Public concern centred around the use of ratepayer money to host what many residents believe is inappropriate content for children aged one to six,” the senator said in a statement.

“Some have attempted to paint those opposing this event as right-wing, but they really are just concerned mothers, fathers and grandparents,” he said. “It is time for a civilised debate where both sides of the argument can be heard and respected.”

Livestreamer Rukshan Fernando said reporting on the incident has been framed incorrectly by the media.

“It was more reactionary,” he previously told The Epoch Times, regarding the protests. “The interruptions really began when the issue of the drag show came up, and the council gave its [pre-prepared] answer and wanted to move forward to the next topic.”

“I interpreted it as people weren’t satisfied with that answer,” he said.

Daniel Y. Teng is based in Brisbane, Australia. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at [email protected].