Australia: Anti-gay conference begins despite protests
An anti-gay group’s conference is underway in Australia, despite protests from equality campaigners.
The World Congress of Families conference began today inside Melbourne’s right-wing Catch the Fire church, after it stepped in to host the event at the last minute.
The WCF is known for its extreme anti-gay and anti-abortion viewpoints, and to giving platform to extreme homophobic speakers.
Outside, crowds of over 100 protesters attempted to block the path of the homophobic speakers, with two protesters arrested.
Successful lobbying from campaigners got four successive venues to refuse to hold the conference, before the church stepped in.
Pastor Daniel Nalliah defended his decision to allow the group to hold the conference in his church, saying: “I was in a court case for five years fighting for freedom of speech, and I think free speech should be for everyone.
“So the protesters have a right to be here, but venues shouldn’t have to cancel just because of their nonsense.
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“I’m not going to put up with that, and that’s why I decided to hold it here.”
Organiser Margaret Butts admitted to the Guardian Australia yesterday: “It’s a mess.
“We have no venue at the moment – the police are telling us it’s a safety risk because of planned protests and demonstrations.
“We are frantic at the moment trying to organise something else, we’ve had four venue cancellations. I can’t talk to you because we are just too busy right now.”
The group intended to hold a conference in Moscow earlier this year, but cancelled it over Russia’s ongoing tensions with Ukraine.
Watch a clip via Fairfax below: