Predictably, Brian Tamaki’s grandstanding against drag queen story times and rainbow crossings has died down, so he’s trying a new anti-trans tactic instead, says Craig Young.

This suggests that Tamaki is fixated on public performance of anti-LGBTQI+ misbehaviour but has no real strategy to follow through once he has done so. Sunita Torrance and Daniel Lockett, the aggrieved drag queens are still suing Tamaki for defamation, leading to nothing more than a vacuous grin from Tamaki. Meanwhile, following a $16,000 fine paid by his grandson-in-law Fergus O’Connor (31), the Karangahape Road vandalism case ended with the Bishop of Bling out of pocket.  Furthermore, there have been no further rainbow crossing defacements. Outside  O’Connor’s trial, Tamaki whinged about the fact that the Luxon administration still hadn’t abolished the Relationship and Sexuality Curriculum, despite it being in its coalition agreement with New Zealand First. Nor was Winston Peters pursuing the issue, he also complained.

Tamaki’s problem is that due to the absence of an overall strategy and repeated failures to break through into mainstream politics, he isn’t taken seriously, yet serves as a potent scapegoat. Ironically, this means that his presence counter-mobilises LGBTQIA+ activists against his latest political crusade. One is rather reminded of New South Wales’ former fundamentalist politician Fred Nile who served the same function for Sydney LGBTQIA+ communities.
In early May, probably conscious that he was losing media visibility due to the declining significance of his earlier publicity stunts, Tamaki instructed his Christchurch/Otautahi branch members to picket the Te Tahi Youth Clinic in that city, run by veteran Family Planning physician Sue Bagshaw, because Dr Bagshaw is in charge of the current government investigation into puberty blockers and is a trans-inclusive medical practitioner herself.  However, it is a pleasure to report that trans inhabitants of the Garden City and their allies rapidly mobilised against Destiny Church’s presence. Still, this tactic again sounds familiar- it’s taken directly from the anti-abortion playbook, where anti-abortionists used to make nuisances of themselves outside medical facilities offering abortion services and reproductive health needs for women and other pregnant people.  There’s one problem with this tactic, though- when the anti-abortionists started to do this, pro-choice groups mobilised to provide a supportive presence outside the clinics and ultimately saw the bully pulpiteers off. This is probably what allies of transgender rights need to do if Tamaki continues his latest display of belligerence against LGBTQI+ Aotearoa/New Zealand.
However, the aftermath of the cancelled drag queen storytimes still continues to reverberate. Apart from the ongoing defamation case against Tamaki from Sunita Torrance, Rotorua City Council has released a report that described ‘online abuse, harassment and misinformation’ and  ‘threats to children’, which meant there was an escalated public risk profile.  The protestors refused to give assurances that this would be a peaceful protest and that participants at the storytime would not be threatened.  Due to a local homicide in Rotorua, it could not call upon additional police and security personnel reinforcement.  Council event management and booking processes will change as a result of Tamaki’s misbehaviour.  Torrance’s defamation proceedings against Tamaki are still to be heard in court.
All this has done is galvanise LGBTQI+ communities and counterprotests. If Tamaki is determined to behave like this, he needs to face consequences. If, as I have commented in earlier columns, he may find that his sect is unable to expand outside its current catchment and that there may be objections lodged at local council levels to its use of council property for gatherings in areas where it is not currently present.  Let’s see if he can continue this provocation if it starts to hurt him in his bank balance.