Current Affairs

Politician ‘identifies as woman’ to justify anti-abortion views

Josh Jackman November 14, 2018
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Barry O'Sullivan, who is anti-abortion, stands in Australia's Parliament

Barry O'Sullivan has long campaigned against the right to abortion (Michael Masters/Getty)

An Australian senator, Barry O’Sullivan, has told Parliament that he is self-identifying as a woman to escape criticism from pro-choice politicians about his anti-abortion views.

O’Sullivan, a member of the centre-right National Party—the junior partner in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s ruling coalition—told the Senate on Wednesday (November 14): “I’m going to declare my gender today—as I can—to be a woman, and then you’ll no longer be able to attack me.”

The 61-year-old made the announcement after his motion to ban pro-choice campaigners from protesting the annual Day of the Unborn Child failed on Monday (November 12) by 32 votes to 12, according to BuzzFeed News.

Pro-life Barry O'Sullivan makes a speech in the Australian Parliament
Barry O’Sullivan is a long-time pro-life politician (Qldaah/youtube)

Greens senator Larissa Waters condemned the motion, which suggested that pro-choice activists were hypocritical for complaining about pro-life protests at clinics which offer abortions, saying O’Sullivan should be “ashamed.”

Waters, who made headlines last year after breastfeeding her baby in Parliament, added that the anti-abortion senator “needs to get his hands and his rosaries off my ovaries and those of the 10,000 Queensland women who have an abortion every year… Senator O’Sullivan has never shared and will never share the experience of any of those women.”

Larissa Waters breastfeeds in Australia's Parliament
Larissa Waters condemned Barry O’Sullivan’s anti-abortion motion (larissa waters/facebook)

“I’m going to declare my gender today to be a woman, and then you’ll no longer be able to attack me”

— Barry O’Sullivan

Her statement was later withdrawn, but that didn’t stop the pro-life Nationals senator, who voted against same-sex marriage when the bill passed the Senate on its way to establishing marriage equality across Australia last year, from targeting Waters, whose party believes in self-identification, stating that transgender people “should have the freedom to affirm their gender.”

Barry O’Sullivan says anti-abortion activists are being silenced

O’Sullivan also claimed that he was being oppressed. He said: “She comes in here and makes attacks on us to continue to try and marginalise those of us in this place and the other place that are centre-right conservatives. We can’t open our traps.

“You cannot say the word ‘abortion’ without being attacked by this mob of almost—I would say ‘grubs’ if I didn’t think you were going to make me withdraw it, Mr Acting Deputy President. But it’s out there now.”

Barry O'Sullivan speaks at pro-life group Cherish Life's event
Barry O’Sullivan said he was being oppressed over his anti-abortion views (Cherish Life/youtube)

O’Sullivan said he would “not stand silent. I will not stand mute while these people try to continue to marginalise policies and ideas that we want to discuss for this nation that I think are still largely supported by the majority of the nation.

“There’s no question about that,” the pro-life campaigner insisted, adding: “They are an ever-increasingly silent majority because they’re not game to speak.”

After the senator had claimed that politicians were trying to silence him, he said that the Greens—who he had earlier declared “won’t be happy until we’re all sucking on tofu made from dried grass”—shouldn’t be able to voice their opinions.

He told the Senate: “I don’t want them talking any longer, with complete impunity, this rhetoric, this nonsense attacking decent value-based Australians.”

Senators respond to Barry O’Sullivan’s anti-abortion remarks

Waters responded to O’Sullivan’s rant by calling on the Nationals senator to retire, writing on Facebook: “Senator O’Sullivan’s bigoted, transphobic, sexist, misogynistic, racist, discriminatory, prehistoric views are not shared by Queenslanders or the vast majority of the nation, as he claims.

Photo of Larissa Waters
Larissa Waters said Barry O’Sullivan should retire over his anti-abortion rant (larissa waters/facebook)

“He has lost support of his party—he and his views should just retire.”

Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi condemned O’Sullivan’s comments about self-identification to BuzzFeed, saying that he “engaged in what is depressingly common in political debate—vile anti-choice myths that seek to stigmatise women, and the mocking of transgender people.

“His views belong in the Stone Age.”

Related topics: abortion, Australia, Australia, Greens, national party, parliament, Politics, self identification, Trans, Transgender

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