Uproar after Aussie swimming heroes featured on anti-trans billboard

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Australian swimming stars, pictured here on an anti-trans billboard by Advance Australia.
Australian swimming stars were featured on an anti-trans billboard by Advance Australia. Image: Twitter

Swimming Australia has condemned the use of some of its athletes in an ad campaign against transgender women in sport.

Conservative activist group ­Advance Australia have organised billboards around Sydney with the slogan “Women’s Sport is Not for Men”, targeting independent member for Warringah Zali Steggall.

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The billboards feature an image of Winter Olympian Steggall, as well as Australian swimmers Kate McKeon, Emily Seebohm and the legendary Dawn Fraser.

Ms Steggall uploaded a photo of one of the billboards to Twitter on Sunday, asking if Advance Australia had consent from the athletes to use their images.

"Right wing activist group Advance Australia are up to their usual misleading dirt," she wrote.

"But do they have consent/approval by the Australian Olympic Team, Swimming Australia or Dawn Fraser for this?

"Is this why Scott Morrison doesn’t want Truth in Political Advertising laws?"

The issue of transgender women in sport has become a hot topic in the election campaign, with Steggall’s contender Katherine Deves under scrutiny for past social media posts.

Zali Steggall, pictured here during a press conference at Parliament House.
Zali Steggall speaks during a press conference at Parliament House. (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

Swimming Australia has since responded, with lawyers demanding the billboards be taken down and confirming consent was not granted.

“Swimming Australia strongly condemns the use of imagery of our athletes, past and present, by the Advance Australia party in recent political advertising,” CEO Eugenie Buckley said in a statement.

“Consent to use the imagery was never sought prior to its publication, neither from Swimming Australia nor the individuals involved. For clarity, if it was sought it, would have been categorically denied.

“Swimming Australia does not endorse this, or any message, from the Advance Australia party.

"Swimming Australia has issued a legal notice to the Advance Australia party and expects the imagery to be removed from circulation immediately.

“Swimming Australia believes in a competitive environment that is inclusive, fair and equitable for all athletes at the same time. Ultimately, all Australians deserve to feel welcome, safe, valued and celebrated in swimming.”

Emily Seebohm, Georgia Bohl, Emma McKeon and Bronte Campbell, pictured here at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
Emily Seebohm, Georgia Bohl, Emma McKeon and Bronte Campbell at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. (Photo credit should read Chris Putnam/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Aussie swimmers weigh in on transgender debate

McKeon and Seebohm have spoken out recently about the transgender debate.

"I personally wouldn’t want to be racing against someone who is biologically a male, so that’s a concern,” McKeon said.

“I don’t think I’m going to have to race against a trans swimmer, I don’t think it’s going to come to that point.

“But now that it’s a growing thing, the sport has to think about how to handle it and how to deal with it, because you do want to be inclusive, but you don’t want to have females racing against swimmers who are biologically male because it’s just not fair.”

Seebohm told Channel Nine that transgender athletes are “always going to be faster and stronger” and females deserve a “level playing field”.

While Fraser has called for seperate categories to be introduced for transgender athletes.

“I don’t think it’s fair to have transgender men competing against women,” Fraser told The Australian.

“Why don’t transgender people compete against each other. That would solve all the problems?”

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