Hundreds of Australians are petitioning for alt-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos to be barred from entering the country for statements allegedly condoning pedophilia.
Ticket sales opened this week for the British journalist and provocateur's Troll Academy tour of Australia, with dates in Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast.
Several hundred Australians have signed a petition this week on website Change.org demanding Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton deny Yiannopoulos entry to the country for the December tour because of the comments.
When contacted by Australia’s 9news, the country’s immigration ministry said it was not aware of Yiannopoulos’s planned visit, and would assess calls to ban Yiannopoulos. The Australian immigration ministry is responsible for accepting or rejecting visa applications, however the minister can step in and impose visa bans.
In recent weeks, Yiannopoulos has promoted his tour in Australian media. “I can’t wait to bring my Troll Academy Tour to Australia and to meet all my Australian fans and make some new friends,” he said in a statement.
Tickets start at $49, and for $1,500 fans can buy behind-the-scenes access at an exclusive champagne party. The tour is sponsored by pornographic magazine Penthouse, which has defended the decision to back Yiannopoulos.
"Whether it was Martin Luther King and the freedom riders in the 1960’s or Milo Yiannopoulos in 2017, free speech is part of Australia’s robust democracy and the cornerstone of Western civilization," Penthouse publisher Damien Costas said in a statement.
A supporter of President Donald Trump, Yiannopoulos claims to be fighting against politically correct taboos, and has drawn accusations of racism, misogyny and Islamophobia. In February, he resigned as an editor of the Breitbart news network after staff threatened to quit over a radio interview in which he seemed to condone pedophilia.
"There are certainly people who are capable of giving consent at a younger age, I certainly consider myself to be one of them, people who are sexually active younger,” said Yiannopoulos on the Drunken Peasants podcast in February. "Some of those relationships between younger boys and older men, the sort of coming-of-age relationships, the relationships in which those older men help those young boys to discover who they are, and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable, and sort of a rock where they can’t speak to their parents…"
Yiannopoulos had a $250,000 book deal cancelled following the comments, as well as a speaking engagement at a U.S. conservative conference. He has denied condoning pedophilia.
Public appearances by Yiannopoulos in the U.S. have been met by protests.
At Berkeley College, in California, in April, there were violent clashes between alt-right and left-wing protesters when Yiannopoulos spoke on campus, while a planned follow-up week-long event on the campus in September sputtered out as speakers pulled out and venues fell through, with Yiannopoulos only taking the stage for 20 minutes.
In 2016, a talk by Yiannopoulos at his former school in England was cancelled after the school spoke to counter extremism officials at the Department for Education.
He was banned permanently from Twitter earlier that year for orchestrating a trolling campaign against African-American actress Leslie Jones.