Mainstream media outlets have reported that violent brawls broke out at a church in Belfield on Tuesday after a group of LGBTQ protesters were confronted by hundreds of “thugs” at a pre-election community forum.
The event, which was held at the St Michael Church, featured a number of speakers, including NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham, and was intended to be a discussion on important matters for the community, including religious freedom and parental rights.
After details of the community forum were made public, a protest was reportedly organised by a group called Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR). An advertisement for the rally soon after appeared on Facebook under the header: “Oppose Transphobia! Protest Mark Latham!” The group described the event as an “anti-LGBT+ public meeting” and called on supporters to “join us for a speakout in front of the meeting” to “campaign against the Christian right.”
News outlets were quick to condemn the behaviour of some of the locals while offering a sympathetic voice to the protesters intent on disrupting the meeting. What most outlets have failed to report, however, are the events that triggered the chaotic scenes.
Caldron Pool spoke with one of the locals present on the day who said the church is dear to many residents in the tight-knit community. So, when news broke that an LGBTQ activist group planned on turning up for the sole purpose of disrupting an event hosted by the church, the neighbourhood was naturally alarmed.
“Many friends and family, along with myself, felt that it was our duty to attend the event to ensure protesters did not vandalise our church, especially given the recent behaviour of protesters outside St Marys Cathedral during Cardinal George Pell’s funeral service,” he said.
As news spread of an organised LGBTQ protest in their community, locals promptly decided to gather outside of the church with the intention of praying for the protesters.
As prayers commenced, the local told Caldron Pool that the group of LGBTQ activists began shouting insults about Jesus.
Approximately 15 protesters were said to have blocked off the street, preventing entry into the event. But tempers boiled over, and minor scuffles broke out after protesters allegedly pulled out a crucifix which they then smashed into pieces before attempting to set it on fire.
A community Maronite Youth Instagram account relayed similar details, claiming that one of the protesters had even spat in a man’s face. Photos were also shared of signs which read, “Catholic Priests… Groomers.”
According to the Maronite Youth, it was members of the “Christian Lives Matter” group who called police to the scene.
The local, who spoke to Caldron Pool, admitted that some of the men present could have responded better but said there were many more present who were calming down the situation and making peace.
The problem, he said, is that the community feels as though the LGBTQ activists are demanding Christians renounce their faith as “immoral.”
“We are just living our own lives, having our own beliefs, and minding our own business, whilst the LGBTQ community have all the rights they want. Now they want to shove their lifestyle in our faces.”
He went on to say, “there is a line and the protesters crossed it on Tuesday night.”
Similarly, a spokesperson for the parish told the Daily Telegraph that the outburst appeared to start after LGBTQ activists desecrated a crucifix.
“To our knowledge, a crucifix was deliberately broken and there was the attempt to set it on fire by members of the left-wing activist group that came to protest out on the street in front of the parish property,” the spokesperson said.
“This was to our knowledge what actually started the violent outburst.”
The spokesperson went on to condemn all violence that occurred and said, “we are appalled and deeply hurt by anyone who showed aggression or hate.”
Mark Latham condemned the actions of the LGBTQ protesters on the night, accusing them of provoking the wild scenes outside of the church.
“How bad are these LGBTQ Alphabet protesters? I’m under police orders regarding access to my speaking event at a Sydney church tonight,” Latham tweeted. “A denial of democracy.”
The NSW One Nation leader went on to describe the protesters as “the new rainbow fascism.”
“It’s unacceptable for anyone to blockade access to a church. I went in via Belfield Bowling Club away from the front street. The church hall I entered was full of women, a peaceful gathering, where ultimately I gave a speech about important election issues.
“Issues I spoke on were religious freedom, parental rights, school education and protecting non-government schools from Alphabet Activism and lawfare.
“The police told me there had been violence on the front street, so I thoroughly condemned that and urged everyone to disperse peacefully.
Latham said, “We should sort out our differences peacefully at the ballot box as we are doing in NSW this Saturday. Any other approach is unacceptable and counter-productive in a democracy.”
He went on to say, “These transgender radical Leftwing protesters cannot continue to go around threatening to block roads and access to a church, a place of worship.
“The law should deal with them. Their provocation triggered the wild scenes at Belfield. Enough is enough.”
The Telegraph also noted that a spokesperson for Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR) denied that the group destroyed a crucifix.