Police Media have denied they have received reports of alleged threats made to Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance staff after CEO Dean Lee told reporters that plans to light up the war memorial in 'pride colours' were abandoned due to the threats.
It follows Rebel News' exclusive report on Sunday revealing that the Victoria Police officer in charge of security at the site refuted Lee's claims.
The officer informed reporter Avi Yemini that the decision was, in fact, made due to widespread public backlash against the move and not threats of violence and abuse levelled at Shrine staff.
"They were actually not threats, they're just hate-mail," the officer said.
Appearing before the media to denounce the alleged threats, Lee wore a Pride badge on his jacket while speaking out against the 'significant' threats sent to Shrine staff.
"They have used abusive language and in some cases they have made threats and where those threats are of significant concern, they have been referred to Victoria Police," Lee said.
The mainstream media have continued to repeat Lee's claims without verifying the allegations with dozens of stories and reports flagging serious concerns over the welfare of staff and fueling outrage on social media by stoking tensions within the queer community.
7 News even reported on Sunday that police had 'launched an investigation into the threats'; however, Rebel News can reveal that no police investigation is currently underway.
In a statement, Victoria Police Media Unit clarified that 'police have not received a formal report' about any threats made to Shrine staff.
On the weekend, the Shrine's Instagram account made a post informing the public that the rainbow lighting display would be cancelled, while the 'Defending with Pride' exhibition would go ahead.
“Over several days, our staff have received and been subject to abuse, and in some cases, threats,” the post read.
“We have seen something of what members of the LGBTIQ+ community experience every day.
“It is hateful."
Lee told The Age that the Shrine had received over 100 comments from the public who were 'overwhelmingly opposed' to the Pride display.
The newspaper reported that:
Some messages were extreme, but he would not reveal details, nor say if they were death threats.
Opponents to the decision to light up Shrine in the first place have said that the exhibition and honouring LGBTIQ+ service is not their issue of concern but have drawn the line at the use of the war memorial to make political statements.
It was also revealed that the Victorian branch of the RSL was not consulted about the Shrine's rainbow light display, with the president calling the move 'inappropriate'.