Melton councillor’s ‘transphobic’ questions criticised

Melton councillor Moira Deeming

Benjamin Millar

A Melton councillor has been accused of spreading “transphobic” views by pushing for transgender people to be made to use separate public toilets.

Watts Ward councillor Moira Deeming has used public question time at more than a dozen council meetings across Victoria over the past month to ask whether councils can legally provide ‘sex based’ services and facilities separately to ‘gender identity based’ services and facilities for people who have a gender identity that differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

“For example, can we legally put signs on a set of public toilets declaring that one is for biological males (including males with an intersex condition), one is for biological females (including biological females with an intersex condition) and one is for people with transgender identities (of any biological sex)?” her question asked.

The question was raised in public question time at metropolitan council meetings in areas including Darebin, Knox, Manningham, Nillumbik, Whittlesea, Melbourne, Port Phillip, Casey, Moreland and Moonee Valley, as well as meetings in regional areas including Hindmarsh, Wodonga and Southern Grampians.

The responses of the majority of the councils pointed to both federal and Victorian anti-discrimination legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity or intersex status.

Darebin chief executive Sue Wilkinson said that under these laws, it is discriminatory to require a person who is transgender to use a toilet which does not align with their gender identity.

Moonee Valley mayor Cam Nation’s response took a swipe at Cr Deeming for seeking to create community division and failing to identify herself as a councillor.

“Public question time is not an opportunity for councillors elected elsewhere to come into our chambers, and use our council meeting as a platform to spread their homophobic and transphobic views,” he told the meeting.

“This is clearly nothing more than trying to bring divisive and offensive rhetoric into our chambers and into our city.”

Cr Nation said Cr Deeming “has a history of homophobic and transphobic statements” that have had a damaging effect on members of the LGBTIQA+ community in the western suburbs.

Melton council acting chief executive Luke Shannon said Cr Deeming’s question was raised in her capacity as a private citizen.

“Moira Deeming has acted as a private citizen and has not breached any council codes,” he said.

Cr Deeming did not respond.