Free Speech War of Words For DUSA Club

By Mathew Sharp

‘Censorship’ by the Deakin University Student Association (DUSA) has left students fuming amidst national headlines.

The Australian reported yesterday that the Deakin University Liberal Club was told to remove Facebook posts criticising gender theory and recent changes to Victorian gender recognition laws.

Following threats of disciplinary action, the Geelong Liberal branch removed a post which referred to the law as unable to ‘stack up with scientific fact’, and deleted a video named ‘There Are Only Two Genders’.

The Burwood Liberal branch has refused to delete an August 31 post criticising the law, from when they met Liberal MPs at Parliament House.

‘Fantastic conversations were had particularly about the disastrous births, deaths, and marriages registration bill, allowing people to change the sex recorded on their birth certificate on a 12-month basis simply through self-selection,’ the post said.

Deakin University Liberal Club’s post

Students criticised DUSA and the Liberal club on Facebook.

‘DUSA is one wave short of a shipwreck,’ Commerce student Tianyi Wei wrote on The Australian’s page.

‘When your politics is based around bashing minority groups you know you’re doing something wrong,’ Labor supporter and Politics student Kye Cole said on the Burwood branch’s Facebook page.

The Deakin Labor Club posted a response standing ‘in solidarity with our comrades in the LGBTQI+ community and against the hate being spouted by the Deakin Liberal Club.’

‘We, as the Deakin community, are better than the transphobic comments posted on the Liberal Club Facebook page.’ [sic] the Facebook post said.

Deakin Labor Club’s response

Deakin’s Pride Club issued a statement today condemning the statements, calling them bigoted and contributing to hostility towards transgender students.

‘We hope that [the Liberal Club] will take down the Facebook posts and issue a public apology for their ignorant and inflammatory actions,’ the statement said.

Deakin Pride’s statement

Deakin Burwood Liberal president Luke Dalle Nogare told WORDLY that the response to the article had been supportive.

‘[We are] overwhelmed by the support we have received from the wider Deakin community,’ Mr Nogare said.

A commenter with the alias ‘AMS’ wrote on The Australian’s site, saying they are a Deakin student and supported the club’s right to its views.

AMS’s comment

‘I call on the Vice-Chancellor of Deakin University to support ALL voices on campus and promote freedom of speech,’ the commenter said.

The debate unfolded after DUSA clubs officer Sophie Elizabeth requested the club delete posts as they breached the association’s social media policy.

‘Examples of unacceptable social media conduct include posting commentary, content or images that are defamatory, porno­graphic, proprietary, harass­ing … or that can create a hostile environment’, a clause from the policy reportedly says.

The Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill allows for a person to alter the sex on their birth certificate to their gender identity, without needing to have gender reassignment surgery.

The law was passed on August 27 and drew criticism from the Liberals, Nationals, and some feminist groups, reportedly concerned by biological men who identified as trans women accessing women’s private areas.

DUSA Queer Officer Vanessa Agar declined to comment until the release of a statement by the student council.

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