Melbourne court dismisses trans activist's legal complaint

Rainbow Rights Watch's complaint over a news article detailing the removal of a transgender inmate with a history of violent sexual offences is rejected.

Melbourne court dismisses trans activist's legal complaint
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A transgender rights activist's recent attempt to pursue legal action against Australian media outlets has been dismissed by the court.

Claire Southey, the director of Rainbow Rights Watch, had lodged a complaint regarding an article Melbourne newspaper The Herald Sun.

The article in question reported on a petition by female inmates at Dame Phyllis Frost Correctional Centre, requesting the removal of a transgender inmate with a history of violent sexual offences.

Victorian woman Mel Jefferies, who identified as a man for ten years before detransitioning in 2021, criticised the lobby group after Southey's claim was rejected.

The 2022 article detailed the inmates' concerns about the safety risks posed by the transgender inmate, whose past included a conviction for sexually assaulting a woman and a previous child-sex offence in Europe.

Southey's complaint asserted that the article uncritically repeated claims that the transgender inmate's presence made others feel "unsafe," "threatened," and "traumatised."

However, the tribunal concluded that the article did not vilify transgender people or link their gender identity to criminal behaviour.

"The article did not state or imply that transgender persons as a class or subclass engaged in serious criminal conduct or posed a threat to non-transgender people," the tribunal noted. It also determined that the article did not incite hatred, contempt, or ridicule towards the applicant.

In May of the previous year, Southey also lost a legal battle against the Australian Press Council over publications she claimed discriminated against transgender individuals.

Mel Jefferies expressed frustration over the legal system being used against those with valid concerns. She has been actively campaigning against trans healthcare practices, particularly the gender affirmation model, since undergoing breast removal surgery in 2017 on medical advice.

"Single-sex spaces matter," Jefferies said. "I was sexually assaulted in a mixed-sex psych ward. Efforts to disenfranchise women who have suffered deeply at the hands of abusive men strengthen my resolve to oppose these ideas."

Jefferies also highlighted a document by the Trans Justice Project encouraging complaints about "anti-trans media," suggesting an attempt to silence critics of the movement.

Daniel Wild, deputy executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs, remarked that gender and identity issues are critical matters and that media should not be restricted from reporting factual stories on these topics.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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