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Female-only app represented by Katherine Deves fails to throw out transgender discrimination suit

Wille Okon 160 June 1, 2023

A female-only social media platform represented by former Liberal party candidate Katherine Deves has failed to get a discrimination suit thrown out of court.

Transgender woman Roxanne Tickle is suing the social media platform Giggle for Girls, an app “made for women by women”, that blocked her after she was “considered male”.

Federal court justice Robert Bromwich on Thursday allowed an extension of time for the case and ordered Giggle to pay Tickle’s legal costs for an earlier hearing.

After receiving initial approval to access the platform in February 2021, Tickle says it was revoked by September.

“I believe that I am being discriminated against by being provided with extremely limited functionality of a smartphone app by the app provider compared to that of other users because I am a transgender woman,” Tickle wrote in a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission, filed in December 2021.

“I am legally permitted to identify as female.”

Giggle responded that Tickle had been removed because she had been “considered male” by her appearance in a selfie she uploaded.

Giggle and its chief executive, Sally Grover, did not know Tickle was transgender and it did not inform the decision to revoke her access, lawyers wrote in response to the complaint in March last year.

Grover described Tickle as a “trans identified male” in a social media post less than three weeks later, alleging Tickle wanted her to be “re-educated”.

Deves, who attracted controversy at the 2022 federal election due to her outspoken comments about transgender people, was due to appear on behalf of Giggle on Thursday but was unable to connect due to audio-visual issues.

She told Sky News in April she would not contest a vacancy in the Senate, in order to prioritise her work for the Giggle legal team.

“We haven’t had much political appetite to protect women’s rights,” she said.

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“This has the potential to be the definitive case to go all the way to the high court to ensure women and girls have the right to say no to men in spaces where they are vulnerable.”

Giggle had attempted to have the matter quashed, objecting to the competency of the application.

But Bromwich threw out the claim, finding the objection notice itself to be incompetent.

The judge also approved an application by Tickle to limit the maximum amount of legal costs she would be liable to pay if she loses to $50,000.

Tickle sued Giggle and Grover in the federal circuit and family court in July last year, but dropped the actions due to concerns over growing legal costs.

Tickle filed a new lawsuit in December seeking damages, a written apology and restored access to the platform.

The case returns to court on Friday for a management hearing.