News, Queer //

‘Kick the bigots out the door’: Protesters rally at Town Hall for trans rights

Activists gather to speak out on International Transgender Day of Visibility.

Photo courtesy of Aman Kapoor.

A crowd of protesters gathered at Town Hall for the International Transgender Day of Visibility to advocate for trans inclusion and liberation.  

Wei Thai-Haynes, an organiser from Pride in Protest (PiP) and a Board Member of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG), began the protest by criticising One Nation MP Mark Latham’s proposed religious freedom legislation. 

“It is only just [recently] that [Mark Latham’s Parental Rights Bill] failed in Parliament. [It is] a bill that would have denied counsellors and teachers alike from educating students about gender expression and identity, a bill that would have put teachers at risk of losing jobs,” they said.

“Our fight is far from over. While the religious freedom bill is not before us in Parliament, it is far from dead.” 

Following on from Thai-Haynes’ speech, Dani Cotton, member of the USyd Casuals Network and NTEU Branch Committee, advocated for a nationwide implementation of gender affirmation leave in the tertiary education sector. 

“Not a single workplace in this country has annual gender affirmation leave. Gender affirmation leave should be annual,” Cotton said.

Last year, Cotton and the NTEU succeeded in securing one-off 30-day gender transition leave for staff at USyd. However, the union is pushing for this policy to be extended on an annual basis.   

They also drew the crowd’s attention to a dispute at the University of Tasmania (UTAS) where management allegedly lowered the UTAS NTEU branch’s demand for 30-day gender affirmation leave down to 10 days, despite having initially offered a 20-day period.    

“This is not something that bosses are just gonna roll over [on]. We need to stand and fight and we have been fighting,” Cotton said. 

NSW Greens MP Abigail Boyd then took to the podium to address discrimination facing trans and sex worker communities. 

“We have 25 odd years of decriminalisation in NSW and yet we still don’t have protection for sex workers,” Boyd said. 

Speaking on the Greens’ efforts to enshrine protections and anti-discrimination laws for sex workers, Boyd criticised Labor MPs in the NSW Legislative Council for opposing such initiatives.  

“Greg Donnelly, Labor MP, stood up and [made] a speech on Wednesday night hating on trans people. This is a Labor MP,” she said. “I have been unable to bring [a] Bill protecting sex workers from discrimination successfully through the upper house. Does Labor support that bill? No, they don’t.” 

Boyd also criticised the passing of the Roads and Crimes Bill by the NSW Legislative Assembly on Thursday, which was widely condemned as an incursion on the right to protest. 

“The Greens stood absolutely firmly against those laws. We filibustered and [used] every trick in the book, which I note is a form of protest within Parliament,” she said. “We now live in a state that has some of the most draconian anti-protest laws in the world.” 

Following Boyd’s address, protesters marched from Town Hall to Taylor Square in Darlinghurst. 

Participants chanted as they made their way down Oxford Street.

“When trans rights are under attack? What do we do? Stand up, fight back!”