The Premier of Victoria, Australia, Dan Andrews hosted a drag queen storytime event for kids at Parliament House on Wednesday to commemorate the “International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia.”
Children gathered around on the floor, some seated on their mothers’ laps, as drag queens read children’s books. The Premier himself was seen with a smile, watching the event unfold. The government also pledged $1.8 million to Rainbow Health Australia, an “LGBTIQA+” program.
Sharing a snapshot of the event, ABC reporter Bridget Rollason took to Twitter, noting the absence of Liberal MPs at the gathering. She later updated that statement after finding a Liberal MP was not invited.
The decision to hold the drag queen story-time event at Parliament House came after the Monash City Council’s initial cancellation of the event at Oakleigh Library.
This cancellation followed a controversial sequence of events that transpired on May 3 when protesters turned up at the Council chambers in Melbourne’s southeast pounding on glass walls and chanting, “Shame on you” directed towards the councillors.
The drag queen performer, Sam T, was scheduled to feature at the event catered to babies and preschool children. However, Monash CEO Dr. Andi Diamond released a statement expressing regret over the necessity to cancel the upcoming drag story-time event in May. Dr. Diamond cited safety concerns and alleged there were threats of violence against councilors, attendees, performers, and staff as the primary reasons behind the cancellation.
Dr. Diamond stated, “It is incredibly disappointing to have to cancel an event designed to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, but we were left with no choice after Victoria Police advised Council of the risks associated with holding the event. We understood this was not for everyone and scheduled it outside our regular library programs so that parents planning to bring their children were making a deliberate choice to attend. Unfortunately, some in our community were not willing to allow that choice. In the end, we were unable to guarantee that we would be able to hold the event safely.”
The escalating backlash over these events has prompted the peak body for Victorian Councils to call an emergency meeting on Thursday. This gathering aims to address the issue and explore potential solutions with their only aim being to safeguard the drag events from any disruption.
Moreover, in response to the volatile environment surrounding drag story-time events, a similar gathering planned at Woodleigh School on the Mornington Peninsula was canceled, while another event at Eltham Library in Melbourne was shifted online on Wednesday. Additionally, a Rainbow Story-Time event hosted by Bathurst-based Betty Confetti at Goulburn Library in New South Wales, initially scheduled for June 3, was also called off.