Scott Morrison defends the Liberal’s candidate for warringah Katherine Daves amid calls to disagree with comments made about transgender people.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has backed the Liberal candidate for Warringah, prompting calls from within the party to dismiss him.
Katherine Daves came under criticism this week for comments she had previously made about transgender people, with New South Wales Treasurer Matt Keane saying they should be dropped.
“There is no room for bigotry in a mainstream political party,” Mr Keane wrote on Twitter.
“Coming out as trans will be extremely challenging, especially for children, and political leaders must condemn, not participate, the oppression of people based on their gender.”
Ms Dewes wrote in a series of now-deleted social media posts that she was “triggered” by the rainbow pride flag and described transgender children as mutilated and sterile.
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She was seen comparing her campaign to keep transgender women out of the women’s sport to those who stood against the Holocaust.
Mr Morrison said on Saturday that the comments Ms Dewes has made in the past were clearly insensitive and she acknowledged it.
“Just as we have Labor candidates who have said similar things in the past that are insensitive and even the Labor leader himself has said that if that is the case, no one would be running for parliament. – Those are not my words,” he said.
“My point is, are you going forward as a candidate, you need to know things that you probably shouldn’t have done the same way in your past and I think that’s what Katherine is saying.
“It’s a woman who stands up for women and girls in sports, that’s the primary issue she’s raised. There are ways she’s expressed it in the past that she doesn’t feel comfortable anymore.”
Mr Morrison said he would not engage in a “pile-on” against Ms Dewes, reiterating that “she wants to stand up for causes she strongly believes in”.
“And mainly what she is talking about is very sensitive – but one issue that I know is talked about right across the community – is to ensure fairness in sport and to stand up for women and girls in sport. about,” he said.
“She has learned from her experiences how she has tried to deal with this issue in the past and I have no doubt that she will pursue these issues more sensitively and in a more respectful manner in the future.”
Ms. Daves is the co-founder of Save Women’s Sport, a group that campaigns for organizations to ban transgender competitors from women’s sports and promotes the creation of a separate category for transgender athletes.
“In my dedication to fighting for the rights of women and girls, my language has at times been unacceptable. It has hurt people and distracted from my arguments,” she said in a statement.
“I apologize for the kind of language and the hurt caused to me. I am committed to continuing to fight for the safety of girls and women in a respectful manner.”
Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese said it was “very clear that the selection of this candidate is not just dividing the country, it is dividing the Liberal Party”.
Asked whether Ms Dewes should be sacked, Mr Albanese said: “It is a matter for the Liberal Party, but if I were Scott Morrison, I would not have chosen him in the first place”.