Prime Minister Chris Hipkins agrees the “physical confrontation” that took place at the chaotic Posie Parker rally at the weekend was “repellent”.
Anti-transgender activist Parker, whose real name is Kelly-Jay Keen-Minshul, was sent packing from an Auckland park at the weekend after a large counter-protest that resulted in scuffles. One counter-protesters also threw red liquid over Parker, who was subsequently escorted out of Albert Park by security guards and the police.
Author JK Rowling is among those to come swinging against the counter-protest in defence of Parker, saying they were “repellent scenes… in which a mob assaulted women speaking up for their rights”.
Asked by AM host Melissa Chan-Green what he made of those comments, Hipkins agreed to an extent.
“I want us to live in a country where we can have disagreements with each other peacefully – one of the components of that is we should be able to protest against views and even people that we disagree with,” he said, but, “I think people getting into [a] physical confrontation – whether that’s throwing things or other forms of violence in a protest – is repellent regardless of which side of the debate you sit on.”
Hipkins added people needed to be able to peacefully disagree in New Zealand’s democratic society.
“They can express their disagreement with each other very strongly without the resort to violence or intimidation in the way we’ve seen in a variety of recent events – including the Parliamentary protest where bricks ended up getting thrown at the police,” Hipkins said.
“These are not the sort of things we want to see in protest. Protest is legitimate, protest is to be celebrated in a democracy – violence should not be part of that.
“My message to all Kiwis is: One of the best things you can do to safeguard democracy is make sure you continue to have friends and relatives who you engage with [and] who you disagree with. We all have to make sure we live in a world where we’re allowed to have different views and we’re allowed to disagree with each other.”
Parker is a contentious British figure, who started the “Standing for Women” group that campaigns against transgender rights.
In a Twitter post later on Saturday – not long after the Auckland chaos – she hit out at her treatment in New Zealand.
She addressed MPs and journalists, saying “lies were… spewed by politicians in power in Australia and New Zealand, boosted by a corrupt media populated by vile dishonest unskilled cult members”.