The anti-trans activist known as Posie Parker cancelled a planned event in Wellington and left New Zealand, after chaotic and at times violent protests curtailed an appearance in Auckland before she was able to speak in public.
Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull had been due to speak in Auckland on Saturday morning. The British activist was met by crowds of pro-trans rights counter-protesters estimated to be in the thousands, substantially outnumbering the speaker’s supporters. She left the event after being booed, heckled and doused with tomato juice.
Keen-Minshull’s appearance in New Zealand had been controversial before her arrival. An earlier appearance in Australia had been attended and supported by white supremacist groups, who marched the streets repeatedly performing the Nazi salute.
A number of LGBTQ+ rights groups had pushed for New Zealand’s immigration authorities to deny her entry on the grounds that she posed a threat to public order. On Friday, New Zealand’s high court ruled that the decision to allow Keen-Minshull entry to the country was lawful.
The immigration minister, Michael Wood, had said on Thursday: “Like many New Zealanders I would prefer it if Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull never set foot in New Zealand. I find many of her views repugnant, and am concerned by the way in which she courts some of the most vile people and groups around, including white supremacists.
However, he said he had consulted Immigration New Zealand and concluded that the “case does not meet the threshold for ministerial intervention”.
The protest and counter-protest on Saturday was violent and chaotic. The Green party co-leader Marama Davidson, who was demonstrating in support of trans rights, was hit by a motorcycle at a pedestrian crossing. A convoy of motorcyclists had appeared at the protest in support of Keen-Minshull.
Davidson required medical attention after the incident but was not hospitalised. The party confirmed on Saturday that Davidson had reported an incident to police, saying: “It appears a motorcyclist failed to stop at a pedestrian crossing and Marama was knocked to the ground.”
In a statement on Saturday, Let Women Speak NZ, a group affiliated with Keen-Minshull’s events, said the planned event in Wellington had been cancelled on the advice of Keen-Minshull’s security team. Local media reported on photos showing her waiting for a flight out of the country from Auckland international airport on Saturday night.
More than 1,000 supporters of trans rights showed up to the site of Keen-Minshull’s Wellington event on Sunday to hold a rally, even though she had already left the country, Radio New Zealand reported. Hundreds attended a similar demonstration in Christchurch.
On Twitter, the Harry Potter author JK Rowling, a prominent supporter of gender-critical campaigners such as Keen-Minshull, decried the protest against her in Auckland as “repellent”.
A spokesperson for Auckland Pride, one of the demonstration’s organising groups, tweeted on Saturday that they rejected claims of violence at the event from Keen-Minshull’s detractors.
Keen-Minshull had livestreamed her attempt to make a speech, and her exit, accompanied by police. “I have grave fears for this place,” she said as she left. “This country’s fucked.”