Controversial Liberal candidate for Warringah Katherine Deves says she is not transphobic and just wants to have a “respectful debate” about women’s sport.
“This argument is about women and girls,” Deves, who has apologised for old tweets that falsely claimed that “half of all males with trans identities are sex offenders”, told 2GB radio on Friday morning.
“Women and girls should have the right to have a dedicated female sports category for players’ safety and fair competition.“
Asked if she was transphobic, she said: “Of course not … This isn’t about that.“
“Back in the early 90s I was going to Mardi Gras … I voted for same-sex marriage,” Deves said.
“I don’t have an issue with that. But this is about a collision of rights.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg declined to back in Deves’ continuing candidacy when asked this morning if the Liberal party should dump her, while condemning her “inappropriate” references to the Holocaust.
“That language is inappropriate,” Frydenberg, who was born in Australia to Jewish parents, told ABC radio this morning.
He said while there was a legitimate debate to be had about fairness in women’s sport, “when you start bringing these analogies, or that level of terminology, I do think that both diminishes the person who’s making the argument that it also distracts from the real issues at play.”
Deves has reportedly agreed to visit Sydney’s Jewish museum after further tweets were unearthed, in which she references Jewish schoolgirl Anne Frank, who died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945.
Asked why the Liberal party was running a candidate who was “exploiting the death of Anne Frank now”, Frydenberg said using Holocaust analogies was “largely inappropriate … in the current contemporary political context”.
Deves’ references to Nazism were “insensitive, and they are unacceptable”, the Treasurer said.
In Friday’s radio interview, Deves said her concern with transgender participation in women’s sport was about “equality and fairness”.
“Women and girls should not have to face any discrimination tribunal when they simply want to have a team that’s female only … All I ever wanted was for this debate to be had in the public domain.”
Asked if she agreed existing laws already protected sportswomen who formed women-only clubs, Deves said: “There is legislation in place, but it’s not working in the way that it should.“
She said her controversial previous comments on Twitter had been made “as a private person not envisaging that I would eventually put my hand up to run for politics”.
Deves said she wanted to “move on” from the social media controversy and that “Twitter is not a place where you should be prosecuting difficult arguments”.
“I’ve apologised and I think that we just need to conduct these debates going forward in a respectful and dignified way,” she said.