The organisers behind Supanova have “deeply” apologised for allowing an artists’ hall stall selling fascist memorabilia at the convention, and the man behind the stall has now been banned.
In a lengthy statement posted to Facebook on Thursday afternoon, the organisers said their exhibitor terms and conditions explicitly ban “materials that offend, disparage, or vilify any person on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexuality or disability.”
A bunch of the items sold at the stall in question – some of which featured swastikas, Rising Sun Flags and fascist statements – fell under that category. Other items included a huge banner which read “kick pink fascism out of Oz” and pro-gun, conservative t-shirts.
There was also a Eureka Flag, a symbol which originated from the workers’ movement but which has since been coopted by neo-Nazis in Australia, as well as the colonial-era Federation Flag, which more recently featured in the logo for Fraser Anning‘s far-right political party.
“What occurred over the weekend with the exhibitor in question was, despite our team’s best efforts, a significant deviation from what we stand for,” Supanova’s apology read.
“While we responded to complaints as they arose, removing offensive material from the exhibitor’s stand prior to opening on Saturday, and ultimately ejecting them from the event before doors opened on Sunday in response to attendee reports overnight, the processes we have in place were evidently too slow to protect our community from the distress this situation has created.”
While organisers made the exhibitor pack up and leave on Sunday morning (a day after the alarm was first raised by guests), the fact that he was even there in the first place has sparked major outrage among attendees.
Supanova organisers now say they’re overhauling the process for exhibitors to register their stalls, however they stressed that it “will not be an overnight process” because they want to ensure existing exhibitors aren’t adversely affected by any changes. It’s not exactly clear what this means.
“Supanova has and will always strive to be an inclusive and supportive environment for all attendees. Our team is comprised of a diverse and loving group of people who adore the pop culture community, and we thank you for your patience in receiving this message,” the apology continued.
“None of this should have happened, and to all of our attendees, exhibitors, volunteers, crew and everyone associated with our event, we apologise for putting you through this. We are determined to do better for you and for our team.”
However, not everyone’s satisfied.
The apology didn’t address the history of Supanova founder Daniel Zachariou, who has expressed problematic sentiments in the past (for which he later apologised), and was accused of turning a blind eye to what exhibitors show up.
It also didn’t explicitly apologise for the fact that the exhibitor allegedly harassed people of colour at the convention who confronted him about his fascist symbols. (The exhibitor has not issued a statement on the allegations.)
Nor did it mention the widespread social media allegations that this very stall had been appearing at the convention for many years prior to the controversy.
In response, countless fans commented saying they’d boycott Supanova until a more meaningful change takes place. We may have to wait until next year’s convention to see for ourselves.