Tom Stayner
SBS News 
May 6, 2022

Liberal candidate Katherine Deves appears alongside Executive Council of Australian Jewry representative Alissa Foster (left) and NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark (right).

Liberal candidate Katherine Deves visited the Sydney Jewish Museum on Friday after backlash to her comments where she compared her lobbying to stop transgender athletes from competing in women’s sport to standing up against the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Ms Deves is contesting the Sydney seat of Warringah at the upcoming federal election and has since apologised for her past statements saying she is not transphobic, and that her comments were about protecting the rights of women and girls.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark said Ms Deves’ visit was an “important” event after she accepted their invitation to attend the museum.

“We hope she will learn from this experience and reflect upon her visit and the incomparable devastation caused by the Nazis,” he said.

“Nazi and Holocaust analogies cannot be used to compare modern-day events in Australia.”

Executive Council of Australian Jewry representative Alissa Foster said Ms Deves had met with a survivor of the Holocaust during her visit.

“I hope Ms Deves has a deeper insight into how readily hatred and prejudice of any kind can descend into unspeakable barbarism,” she said.

Ms Deves had previously attracted criticism after her past commentary surfaced, which included comparing her anti-trans activism to standing up against the Holocaust during a YouTube panel discussion.

Ms Deves was asked why she had started campaigning on gender identity issues during the panel discussion in February last year.

“I feel really strongly about this,” she said.

“I’ve always loved 20th-century history and I think many people would say to themselves, ‘oh I’d never be the villagers that stayed quiet when the trains went past, oh I would have been part of the French Resistance, the underground, I would have been one of those people’.

“When all of this was happening and no one was speaking out, I thought ‘this is it’ – this is the moment in my life when I am going to have to stand up and say something against the status quo and against the establishment.”

The comments were criticised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies’ Mr Bark, and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-chief executive Peter Wertheim.

“It appears Ms Deves has a history of making inappropriate and ill-considered statements comparing events in modern-day Australia to the horrors of the Nazi era,” the pair said in a statement last month.

“While Ms Deves’ recent apologies are welcome, it is well and truly time Ms Deves declares that such comparisons have no place in public debate in Australia.”

In another uncovered tweet from April 2021, Ms Deves commented on a social media post comparing a court decision to historical cases involving Nazi citizens who would dob in people held a grudge against, under a Nazi law.

“This will go down in history as akin to the Grudge trials of the Third Reich,” she wrote.

“I do not like to invoke Nazism, but the parallels are remarkable & deeply sinister.”

Ms Deves has also called trans people “surgically mutilated and sterilised”. She has apologised for her language but said she remains committed to her fight for women and girls in sport.

Ms Deves co-founded the organisation Save Women’s Sport, which aims to prevent trans women from participating in female categories in sporting competitions.

Representatives from the LGBTIQ+ community have also warned that the ongoing political debate around her candidacy has caused harm to trans and gender diverse people.

Ms Deves was endorsed by Mr Morrison to run for the seat after a protracted and highly contested preselection process left the party without candidates in key seats.

The seat of Warringah is currently held by independent MP Zali Steggall, after previously being considered a Liberal stronghold.