News, Culture & Society

Claire Chandler shares speech she’s too fearful to give at Kellie-Jay Keen’s Let Women Speak rally

A Liberal senator who was due to speak at a women’s rally in Canberra fronted by controversial UK activist Kellie-Jay Keen has backed out amid safety concerns.

Liberal Senator for Tasmania Claire Chandler intended to share the stories of two women when Ms Keen brought her ‘Let Women Speak’ tour to Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday.

‘It seemed to me that a Let Women Speak event was a perfect opportunity to draw attention to what these women are saying,’ she said on Tuesday.

But on the back of heated clashes between her supporters and opponents during appearances by Ms Keen in Melbourne and Tasmania this week, Senator Chandler no longer feels she can deliver her speech as intended.

‘There is no assurance that it is even going to be safe for women to attend Thursday’s event,’ she said.

‘The entire focus [has been] consumed by those there to disrupt and scream over the top of women trying to speak about their rights, or, in the case of the Melbourne event, to hijack the event and the media attention for their own abhorrent purposes.’

Liberal Senator for Tasmania Claire Chandler intended to share the stories of two women when Ms Keen brought her ‘Let Women Speak’ tour to Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday

'It seemed to me that a Let Women Speak event was a perfect opportunity to draw attention to what these women are saying,' Senator Chandler said on Tuesday

‘It seemed to me that a Let Women Speak event was a perfect opportunity to draw attention to what these women are saying,’ Senator Chandler said on Tuesday

In lieu of attending the rally, Senator Chandler has now shared the speech she had prepared to deliver on social media. 

She said: ‘I believe women and girls are entitled to the privacy and safety of single sex spaces. These are simple, basic requests for fairness, safety, dignity and privacy. 

‘They are rights that have been available to women for decades.’

She shared the stories of two women who reached out to voice their support for her stance on the matter, including one sexual assault survivor who said it took decades for her to feel comfortable in her body. 

‘It feels to me that almost our entire political and media environment right now tells me I should have deleted those emails, ignored the pleas from those women and pretended I never heard them. 

‘But I can’t, and won’t do that. There will always be women and girls who want and need single-sex spaces for our own safety, dignity and privacy.’

The post attracted support from Senator Chandler’s network, many of whom urged her to reconsider her decision not to appear at the protest.

Nazi protesters arrived at Kellie-Jay Keen's rally in Melbourne at the weekend and performed the Nazi salute

Nazi protesters arrived at Kellie-Jay Keen’s rally in Melbourne at the weekend and performed the Nazi salute

On the back of heated clashes in Melbourne and Tasmania this week, Senator Chandler no longer feels she can deliver her speech as intended

On the back of heated clashes in Melbourne and Tasmania this week, Senator Chandler no longer feels she can deliver her speech as intended

Others questioned whether Victorian Liberal MP Moira Deeming has anything to do with her decision not to attend.

Ms Deeming attended the rally in Melbourne at the weekend alongside Ms Keen, gave a speech and also helped Ms Keen and her security access the area where the rally took place. 

She’s now facing expulsion from her party after men from the National Socialist Network interrupted the event and performed Nazi salutes. 

Critics argue the rally paved the way for the far-right extremists, but both Ms Deeming and Ms Keen argue they had no involvement in facilitating their presence.

She denies all wrongdoing and will fight any expulsion. 

The state Liberal Party voted on Wednesday to hold a vote on the expulsion next Monday. 

Leader John Pesutto said: ”I’m concerned about any member of my team having any kind of association with (Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull) and these shared platforms.’

UK anti-trans rights activity Kellie-Jay Keen has been on a controversial and divisive speaking tour of Australia

UK anti-trans rights activity Kellie-Jay Keen has been on a controversial and divisive speaking tour of Australia

Victorian Liberal MP Moira Deeming attended Ms Keen's rally in Melbourne at the weekend alongside Ms Keen, gave a speech and also helped Ms Keen and her security access the area where the rally took place. She now faces expulsion from the Victorian Liberal Party

Victorian Liberal MP Moira Deeming attended Ms Keen’s rally in Melbourne at the weekend alongside Ms Keen, gave a speech and also helped Ms Keen and her security access the area where the rally took place. She now faces expulsion from the Victorian Liberal Party

Senator Chandler earlier came to Ms Deeming’s defence, arguing it was ‘preposterous’ to imply that women wanted Nazis anywhere near their event.

‘There is no more dangerous or violent group than Nazis,’ she said. ‘This is an obvious fact.

‘It is preposterous to suggest that women and girls fighting for the sex-based rights of women and concerned above all about male violence would want the most violent and dangerous men – Nazis – anywhere near a women’s rights event.’

But her fellow Tasmanian Senator, the Greens’ Nick McKim, issued an impassioned speech in Parliament on Wednesday describing exactly why he believes Ms Keen should not be welcomed.

He described Ms Keen as a ‘pathetic and disgusting excuse for a human being’.

‘What she did was vile, disgraceful and disgusting,’ he said, adding that it ‘provided a window into her dark, warped soul’.

Senator McKim revealed Ms Keen labelled his partner a ‘groomer… because she has a transgender son’.

Thursday’s rally on the lawn out the front of Parliament will be Ms Keen’s final stop in Australia before heading to Auckland on Saturday, having already toured Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart. 

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk