“With this issue, we have a collision of rights and thus far the voices of women and girls have not been heard. And when we have a collision of rights in liberal democracies, we debate them in a reasonable, measured fashion – that’s what should have taken place here,” she said.
The lawyer and mother of three is trying to win back the formally blue-ribbon northern beaches seat of Warringah from Zali Steggall, who defeated Tony Abbott in 2019.
The co-founder of lobby group Save Women’s Sport, Deves previously condemned surrogacy as a “human rights violation”.
Deves was a captain’s pick for the seat in a decision by a three-person committee comprising Prime Minister Scott Morrison, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and former party president Christine McDiven.
Morrison has sought to paint Deves as a champion of women’s rights.
“She is a woman standing up for women and girls and their access to fair sport in this country,” he has said. “I am not going to allow her to be silenced.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Sunday in the 20 years he had been in parliament, he had never had a school community come to him to discuss transgender girls in sport.
He said trans kids were 15 times more likely to self-harm and the debate was not doing young trans people any good.
“Is this the biggest issue in our nation today? I don’t think it is. And I think only desperate people who are into wedge politics and who are trying to deflect from the fact that they’ve been in power for almost a decade and they’ve done precisely nothing with it would push this.”
Deves has kept a low profile since her comments sparked controversy and has dodged the media on multiple occasions. On Friday night she only appeared at a speaking event on the condition the media would not be present.
Deves said she believes she has a strong chance at winning the seat, and denied she was “being played”.
“If there are other mechanisms at play. I’m not aware of them,” she said.
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