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Now-deleted social media posts by Ms Deves included likening her lobbying to stop transgender athletes from competing in women’s sport to standing up against the Holocaust.
“I have been bullied in the most vile way and received death threats.
“I’m not going anywhere, as the Prime Minister said yesterday.”
Senator Anne Ruston earlier called Ms Deves comments “absolutely unacceptable” but backed away from moves to dump her
“We are a broad church and people are entitled to their points of view,” Ms Ruston said.
“We don’t live in an echo chamber.
“We need to accept that people have differing views, but the views that were expressed by Ms Deves were clearly unacceptable.”
When asked if Ms Deves should be dropped as a candidate, Ms Ruston said: “The most important thing” was that the under-fire Warringah candidate had apologised and withdrawn her comments.
Ms Ruston said transgender athletes participating in women’s sport was a “very sensitive” topic, and called for calm and context.
“I don’t think it’s an issue we should shy away from talking about,” she said.
Mr Morrison is backing Ms Deves to run for Warringah despite calls from some critics, inside and out of the party, for her to be replaced ahead of the election.
Minister for Women Marise Payne has refused to endorse Ms Deves.
In since-deleted posts on Twitter, Ms Deves wrote “half of all males with trans identities are sex offenders” and she also called trans people “surgically mutilated and sterilised”.
The Prime Minister handpicked Ms Deves to run for Warringah, an electorate currently represented by independent Zali Steggall, who won the seat from former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott in 2019.