Controversial Liberal candidate Katherine Deves has denied she’s transphobic in a rare interview with 2GB’s Ben Fordham.
Ms Deves has been scrutinised for inflammatory social media posts since she was named Prime Minister Scott Morrison‘s captain’s pick to contest the Warringah seat formerly held by Tony Abbott but now held by Zali Steggall.
“Are you transphobic?” Fordham asked.
“Of course not,” Ms Deves replied.
“This isn’t about that – it is about women and girls.
“Back in the early 90s I was going to Mardi Gras. I voted for marriage equality.”
“I don’t have an issue with that. But this is about a collision of rights.”
Some of Ms Deves’ posts included saying transgender children are surgically mutilated and sterilised, and comparing her advocacy against transgender people competing in women’s sports to taking a stand against the Nazis during the Holocaust.
She also incorrectly claimed: “Half of all males with trans identities are sex offenders.”
Ms Deves said she made those statements before knowing she would be entering public life.
“I did that as a private person not thinking I would eventually put my hand up to run for politics,” she said.
Ms Deves conceded Twitter was not an appropriate place to have an argument about transgender or “human rights issues”.
“Twitter is not a place we should be prosecuting difficult arguments,” she said.
The Liberal candidate urged people to “move on” from her social media statements.
“I’ve apologised and we need to conduct these debates in a respectful and dignified way.”
She went on to say legislation about transgender athletes is “confusing” and “not working in the way it should”.
“Women and girls should have the right to have a dedicated female sports category for players’ safety and fair competition,” she told Fordham.
Ms Deves said the issue was about “equality and fairness”.
“None of that was easy, however I have entered public life to stand up for the people of Warringah and that comes as part of the job.”
When politicians facing the public gets ugly
The Sydney mother – who runs a lobby group called Save Women’s Sport – said she didn’t not realise how much her life would change entering politics but never thought about quitting.
“I wouldn’t have stood up if I didn’t believe I had a chance to win.”
Ms Deves said she would support the Northern Beaches tunnel and wanted to take a stand to make sure there would be no more lockdowns in the case of future COVID-19 outbreaks.
“We need to get on with small business recovery,” she said.
When asked if the Liberal Party had been locking her away after backlash from the community, and from within her party, she said she was out speaking to “ordinary people every day”.
Multiple senior figures inside the Liberal party have called for Ms Deves to be disendorsed as the candidate.
Mr Morrison has refused to be swayed, continuously reaffirming his support for Ms Deves.
Warringah is currently held by independent Zali Steggall, who ousted Mr Abbott in 2019.