Saturday, September 23, 2023

Peter Williams: Lunchtime in St Patrick's Square

The rallies in Auckland’s St Patrick’s Square provided significant contrasts.

The women’s rights campaigners outnumbered the Trans Liberation Alliance (TLA) by at least two to one. Did Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull’s absence reduce the TLA numbers or are there really not that many interested in their cause?

The police never bothered with the women’s rights campaigners.

The TLA members present seemed embarrassed to be there. Why else would they all be wearing masks?

The women’s rights campaigners were all unmasked and many wore black T shirts supporting their cause with the words “Woman: adult human female” embossed on them.

In light of what I wrote yesterday, we dropped by because there were a few hours to kill before our flight overseas.

In reality it was a low key affair with plenty of police. I wasn’t at Albert Park on March 25th but many at St Patrick’s Square were. They remarked regularly that the police had plenty to make up from that eventful day.

I’d estimate there were about fifty police in uniforms were present. Most of them were on the sidelines watching what little action there was.

St Patrick’s Square has two levels. The women’s rights campaigners took the top level, outside the cathedral. The TLA assembled on the lower level. When things got underway at 1pm, the TLA moved towards the steps. Police quickly stepped in and made sure there would be no connection between the two groups. There may have been a few seconds of pushing and shoving as the police formed a blue line but there was no way forward. The two groups were kept well separated.

The women’s right’s campaigners had a lineup of speakers. Causes like this make for strange bedfellows. Among those at the microphone were Jill Ovens, long time unionist and leader of the Women’s Rights Party, and Helen Houghton, leader of the New Conservatives.

But their messages were the same. Women are women, men are men and so are trans-women. The political left and the conservative political right, the lesbian and the heterosexual are adamant that self-identification does not a woman make.

All those who spoke expressed concerns about trans-women in women’s dressing rooms and about trans-women in women’s prisons while some made specific points about the prevalence of rainbow and pride themed events in our schools and universities.

The speeches were heartfelt. Some of the women noticeably teared up as they told their story.

Meanwhile, fifty metres away all the TLA had to offer was ..noise.

It was the most pathetic response imaginable. While the women’s rights campaigners spoke with passion and eloquence, down on the lower level the masked just shouted non-sensical couplets and blew a couple of whistles. If they have anything to contribute to the conversation, we didn’t hear it in St Patrick’s Square.

But the police did their job. I think Kelly-Jay would have been safe.

Peter Williams was a writer and broadcaster for half a century. Now watching from the sidelines. Peter blogs regularly on Peter’s Substack - where this article was sourced.

No comments: