If Victorian Liberal leader John Pesutto reckons he’s having a nightmare with “trans issues” splitting his party – and he is – maybe he should cheer up; the state’s Greens leader, Samantha Ratnam, is in even worse straits.

Ratnam’s outfit – like the British, Canadian and New Zealand Greens – is tearing itself apart as trans rights activists campaign to rid their party of any trace of transphobia. The resignation of another woman from the party on Wednesday threw the schism back into the spotlight.

Ballarat Greens activist Helen Lewers went public with her resignation, citing – among plenty of other things – the criticism directed by senior party figures at those – Lewers among them – who rocked up at that Let Women Speak rally in Spring Street last month.

Internal tensions look likely to increase when a “special panel of inquiry” delivers its report at the end of April, a month later than scheduled. There are fears that mass expulsions, including those of City of Melbourne councillor Rohan Leppert and former party convenor Linda Gale, who have both been accused of – and deny – transphobia, will follow.

One senior party member told CBD that things had become seriously weird in the Greens.

“The party has become a hotbed of authoritarianism and members are too afraid to speak in meetings for fear of retribution,” they said. “I can’t even remember the last time the state council discussed climate change.” Neither Ratnam’s office nor the state branch was keen to comment on Wednesday.

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