Hobart councillor to receive apology after she was lied to over women's rights event

An investigation has found Hobart councillor Louise Elliot faced unfair treatment and discrimination over her 'anti-trans' beliefs.

Hobart councillor to receive apology after she was lied to over women's rights event
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Hobart's City Council has come under scrutiny following findings that Councillor Louise Elliot was discriminated against and misled after attempting to book a venue for a political event.

In September last year, Elliot sought to reserve the Town Hall Ballroom for a "Women's Rights and Free Speech" forum scheduled for November.

Elliot explained to the media that the forum would discuss issues regarding the impact of transgender women in sports and women's prisons and shelters.

She clarified her stance, saying she supported female-only sports and certain spaces without opposing transgender rights.

During a speech outside Parliament House, Elliot stated that transgender women "remain biological men" and expressed concerns about gender change or non-binary identities being used for attention.

She planned to invite speakers advocating for women's spaces and sports, which led council staff to believe the event would feature an anti-trans activist.

Elliot's booking request, made in a personal capacity, was declined, with staff claiming unavailability of the venue. She then lodged a complaint with Equal Opportunity Tasmania (EOT) in October.

Following the complaint, an independent investigation revealed that council staff had indeed breached anti-discrimination laws by blocking the booking based on assumptions about the event's content.

City of Hobart CEO Michael Stretton reported that staff had wrongly assumed the event would involve anti-trans activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull and deemed it a security risk.

Elliot was not given a chance to provide further information for a proper risk assessment. Stretton stated that Elliot was lied to about the venue's availability and was pushed to consider alternative venues.

Elliot's right-to-information requests about her booking were also obstructed. Mr Stretton acknowledged that the staff involved intentionally withheld information, causing stress and frustration for Elliot. The council is set to issue a formal apology at a special meeting on July 3, 2024.

Elliot expressed her dismay at the findings, calling for improved transparency within the council. Stretton, who joined the council in February, noted a prevailing "culture of negativity" and stressed the need for constructive cultural development moving forward. Despite the insurance covering costs, Elliot incurred significant legal expenses, though she couldn't confirm any compensation due to confidentiality.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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