Barry O’Sullivan says he is now a woman, so he can't be 'attacked' on abortion

Senator Barry O’Sullivan says he is now a woman, so he can’t be ‘attacked’ on abortion

Barry O'Sullivan
The representation of women in the Australian Senate suddenly increased this week, after the surprise declaration (and stunt) by Senator Barry O’Sullivan that he is now a woman.

O’Sullivan made the declaration because, he believes, women are not “attacked” for their stance on abortion.

“I am going to declare my gender today, to be a woman, and then you’ll no longer be able to attack me,” he said.

As you can imagine, the response online and across social media as Buzzfeed shared the video of O’Sullivan was swift. From editors updating pronouns on Sullivan’s wikipedia page, to others declaring that O’Sullivan should now take a fairly significant pay cut given the gender pay gap and expect to get plenty of criticism over his hair and appearance.

Jane Caro noted on Twitter that it’s a pity O’Sullivan’s gender change won’t “involve menstruation, a functioning uterus or any of the things that make reproductive rights real and visceral to those who do (mostly women).”

O’Sullivan had been pushing to ban disruptions during next year’s International Day of the Unborn Child by pro-choice activists before announcing he was changing his gender. He lost the motion on the ban 32 to 12, with a number of senators abstaining from the vote.

In response to the motion, Greens Senator Larissa Waters said O’Sullivan needs to get “his rosaries off my ovaries and those of the 10,000 Queensland woman who have an abortion each year.” The comment was later withdrawn, but O’Sullivan responded that he felt attacked and marginalised.

“We can’t open our traps, you cannot say the word abortion without being attacked by this mob of almost — I’d say grubs if I didn’t think you were gonna make me withdraw it, Mr Acting Deputy President, but it’s out there now,” he said.

“These people come and attack me for my religious basis the other day, using words like rosary beads, because I had the audacity to raise issues around late-term abortions where babies that are only minutes away from getting a smack on the arse and a name are being aborted under the policies of the Australian Greens.”

O’Sullivan continued that he will “not stand silent” or “mute”.

“I will not stand silent, I will not stand mute, while these people try to continue to marginalise policies and ideas that we want to get done for this nation … that I think are largely supported still by the majority of the nation.”

“No questions about that, they are an ever increasing silent majority because they are not able to speak.”

Last month, the Queensland Parliament voted to finally decriminalise abortion in Queensland. Men and women on both sides of the debate shared their views on abortion.

O’Sullivan is not known for being supportive of the LGBTI community.

Back in May, O’Sullivan asked during Senate Estimates if he would be able to use the ‘ladies’ loo-loo’ if he declared himself a woman, however he did not go so far as to declare a change of gender at that point.

He voted against the marriage equality bill last year following the postal vote, despite those in the state he represents in the Senate, Queensland, voting 61% in favour.

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