Staff And Cosplayers Are Boycotting Sydney Supanova After A Stall Sold Far-Right Extremist Merch

"For years everyone has attempted to make this a safe space for attendees, but unfortunately now it seems like that effort was futile."

Supanova Sydney

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

Everyone from sponsors, attendees, stockists, and ambassadors have all boycotted Sydney Supanova in response to a stall selling ultra-conservative merch last weekend.

The annual pop culture and cosplay convention was slammed for hosting a vendor that displayed swastikas, the Japanese rising sun, and items with homophobic statements on them.

Supanova claims some offensive material was taken down before opening day on Saturday, but also said the stall in question wasn’t kicked out until Sunday, with attendees seeing the paraphernalia for a whole day in between that.

They were criticised for not being quick enough with the removal, and for the vetting process that allowed the stall-owner to set up in the first place.

A number of staff, including employees and independent contractors, have also quit over the incident, including former MC, Benjamin Maio Mackay.

Maio Mackay, who worked with Supanova for three years, told Junkee that last weekend only adds to a pattern of disappointing behaviour from upper management.

“I personally have always stood for equality, and as a queer person can’t continue to look myself in the eye and work for an organisation that allowed this to happen,” they said.

Maio Mackay had taken a break from the Australia-wide events, and was meant to return to the convention circuit after COVID eased up, but says they can no longer do so in good faith.

Sydney’s most recent expo aligns with a petition to remove founder and director Daniel Zachariou for a list of past controversies.

In 2015, Supanova came under fire for inviting sci-fi actor Adam Baldwin, who started #GamerGate in 2015. A year later, Zachariou supported a petition to stop queer inclusion education program Safe Schools, which he later apologised for.

“As one of Australia’s leading pop culture convention [sic], it needs to be better managed and run by someone who has better morals, a sustainable business ethic and respect for the community that attend it frequently as everyone deserves to feel and be safe and not uncomfortable attending a pop culture convention,” the current petition read.

Supanova released a lengthy statement on Thursday apologising for what went down, and confirmed the people behind the stall have been banned from all future events.

“What occurred over the Exhibitor in question was, despite our team’s best efforts, a significant deviation from what we stand for.”

“Over the past few days, our Exhibitor Services team has been working hard to develop more vigorous screening measures to improve our Exhibitor and Alley applications to avoid these kinds of situations arising in the future.”

“The apology is a step in the right direction, but until it is proven that there’s action being undertaken to prevent incidents like this and not just shallow promises it doesn’t change much,” Maio Mackay said.

“The genuinely sad thing is, so many of the wonderful Supanova team are queer, left-leaning, terrific humans. For years everyone has attempted to make this a safe space for attendees, but unfortunately now it seems like that effort was futile.”

“This absolutely shouldn’t reflect on anyone but upper management.”

Junkee reached out to Supanova for comment.