Fight Anti-Trans Attacks by Mobilisation, not Calls for Bans

British anti-trans far-right activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, who also goes by the name Posie Parker, is due to complete an Australasian ‘Let Women Speak’ tour with rallies in Tāmaki Makaurau and Te Whanganui-a-Tara this weekend, 25th and 26th March. Both rallies are due to be met by counter protests.

The last rally of the Australian leg of the anti-trans tour was held in Hobart yesterday. It was farcical. Keen-Minshull attracted only a handful of supporters and her attempts to speak were drowned-out by a vastly bigger crowd of counter protesters.

In Melbourne last Saturday Keen-Minshull’s rally outside the Victorian Parliament was confronted by a larger crowd of counter-protesters. The incident that has kicked up a storm was the giving of Nazi salutes by a group of uniformed fascists among Keen-Minshull’s acolytes. The fascists had a banner that read ‘Destroy Paedo Freaks’. Calls have been made for the Victorian government to ban Nazi salutes. A government minister said they would not rush into a ban but will consider it.

On this side of the Tasman there have been calls for a ban as well. This time to ban Keen-Minshull from entering the country. Foremost of those seeking such a ban is the Green Party. According to a report from RNZ, the Rainbow Greens have written to the Immigration Minister for such action. They have been supported by Green MP and immigration spokesperson Ricardo Menéndez March.

These calls for bans are a political mistake; they are illiberal. The principle free speech belongs to the left. Our forebears won free speech. There are limits for fascists, but these should be enforced by the left, not the state, by physical action. Remember, the curtailment of free speech has generally been used against the working class. For example, the War Regulations in the First World War that outlawed anti-war speech. Similarly, in the 1951 Waterfront Dispute government regulations made it an offence to publish or distribute ‘seditious’ literature that sided with the workers.

Bans against the far right and fascists are just as likely be turned on the left in the long run. In Britain, the 1936 Public Order Act was ostensibly a measure to restrict the British Union of Fascists led by Oswald Mosely. However, when after the end of the War Mosely’s fascists resumed their disgusting anti-Semitic speechifying, the Act was repeatedly used against outraged Jewish ex-Servicemen who, throughout the second half of the 1940s, organised the disruption of the fascists’ public meetings until the petered out.

The state cannot be trusted to defend us from the far right and fascists. A better strategy than seeking bans is to mobilise to confront our enemies with as many people as possible. The activity involved in mobilising builds the movements needed to beat back the reactionaries. Nothing is learned, nothing is gained, with the passivity of relying on bans. Instead trust can be put in the trans community to rise up in their own defence with their supporters alongside. Banning demands show no trust in organising at grassroots level.

The counter protests in Australian cities to Keen-Minshull’s revolting circus show the way to go. It looks like Keen-Minshull will not be banned from Aotearoa on this occasion. Therefore, this weekend we will send the transphobe packing with our chant of “Posie Parker you can’t hide, you’ve got Nazis on your side.”