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Countering Hate Speech Aotearoa: Free Speech Union's Contradictory Positions Around Free Speech

The hypocrisy of the Free Speech Union is laid bare for all to see. Their recent speaker Graham Linehan is on record calling for Drag Queen Storytimes to be banned.

Countering Hate Speech Aotearoa (CHSA) is a non-profit organisation formed to promote anti-hate speech legislation in Aotearoa, support organisations on hate speech topics, and ensure professionals do not veer into hate speech in their professional lives. We have a focus on LGBTQIA+ issues, with a particular interest in the rights of transgender, intersex, gender-diverse, gender-queer and non-binary people.

Yesterday in a series of press releases and tweets, the Free Speech Union said the cancellation of Rainbow Storytime at a council venue in Rotorua due to security and safety concerns was the ‘Thug’s Veto’ in action.

Unfortunately for the Free Speech Union, Mr. Linehan, their recent speaker on a nationwide speaking tour has a long history of making highly prejudicial and inflammatory statements about transgender people. He has publicly stated that his attacks on trans rights and trans individuals "cost him everything" including his familial relationships, most of his friendships, his career and saw his 'Father Ted' musical defunded. His comments are too numerous to list but can easily be found in the most perfunctory of web and X (Twitter) searches.

Mr Linehan is on record as saying: “Write to your MP, write to your local library, write to anyone in a position of authority and tell them to start being the adults in the room…Individuals are not to blame but the councils and libraries that are pushing a contentious agenda without listening to concerns. If something happens, make sure you give them no opportunity to wriggle out of the blame.”

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He then went on to say “Tell them that Drag Queen Storytime is a terrible idea, that it’s going to put children and perhaps even gay people at risk, and it’s all entirely avoidable. Write to them and get it shut down.

Our CEO Paul Thistoll says “The Free Speech Union are simply not a serious free speech organisation. One week they platform a speaker who is on record that Drag Queen Storytime should be cancelled. Then when one is cancelled, they yell ‘Thugs Veto’. They are actively responsible for creating the situation they are decrying.” Mr. Thistoll furthermore says, “Media should be aware of their contradictory positions around free speech. They are clearly largely a group that seeks to platform hate speech not promote free speech”.

Attributable to: Paul Thistoll, CEO, CHSA

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