MP and father of two trans children tears into opposition lawmakers for cruelly mocking trans rights
Meddick, who is an Animal Justice Party MP for the Victorian legislative council, has accused opposition leader and Liberal Party MP Michael O’Brien and some of his colleagues of making light of trans issues during a private conversation.
The Brisbane Times reported Meddick told parliament on Thursday (18 March) that O’Brien and colleagues – including former leader Matthew Guy and party frontbencher Tim Smith – made jokes during a lunchtime meetup about how there was a label “for everyone”.
“A conversations between them was overheard, mocking my member statement on transgender day of visibility, where I had a transgender pride flag in the parliament,” Meddick said. “The opposition leader himself made comments joking about the word ‘trans’. They described members of our community as ‘poor dears’.”
He was cut off by Craig Ondarchie, a Liberal Party MP and who Meddick also said was part of the conversation, who denied any conversation happened.
However, Labour MP Harriet Shing, who is gay, spoke up in support of Meddick. She said education was required for MPs to better understand “hurtful” rhetoric that might amount to hate speech.
A spokesperson for O’Brien told the Brisbane Times that Andy Meddick had lied and “chosen the cover of parliamentary privilege to make these ridiculous claims”. They added: “We’d like him to make the same allegations outside of parliament.”
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Under parliamentary privilege, Australian MPs cannot take action for defamation against another MP based on words spoken in parliament. But the protection doesn’t apply if an MP repeats those words outside parliamentary proceedings.
Guy and Smith both told Brisbane Times that Meddick had lied. Smith added that if Meddick had something to say he should “allege it under the law of the land, not under the cowardice of parliamentary privilege”.
Meddick said he saw other MPs including Brad Rowswel, David Morris and Matthew Bach at the lunchtime meeting alongside O’Brien, Smith, Guy and Ondarchie.
Andy Meddick told PinkNews that transphobic “hate speech has no place in any workplace”, but sadly, “this isn’t always the reality”. He added that he has asked the minister for equality “what we can do to fix it”.
“It is our responsibility as decision makers to ensure we create safe places for our trans and gender diverse communities,” Meddick said. “Being the proud parent of two transgender children, this is clearly personal for me. I know first hand how harmful transphobic jokes and language can be.”
This article has been edited to add comments sent to PinkNews by Andy Meddick.