Several dozen far-right Christians marched down King Street, Newtown, on Friday night to protest against Sydney’s hosting of World Pride. The mob of bigots intimated passers-by, attempted to enter LGBTI venues while hurling abuse through the doors and threatened to bash those filming them. Horrified Friday night partygoers and pub staff looked on as the mob was escorted by a small group of NSW police, who made no attempt to restrain the march even when the Christians started spitting in their faces.
The march was attended by members of Christian Lives Matter, a far-right group that has been involved in a string of anti-LGBTI actions over the past couple of months in Sydney. Last Thursday, a zoom forum they organised to discuss the “persecution of Christians by the LGBTI community” attracted 650 people. Social media accounts linked to the group have posted videos of themselves vandalising LGBTI murals, and many of those marching down King Street were also spotted at George Pell’s funeral trying to attack an LGBTI protest in February.
The organisers of Christian Lives Matter come from the men’s group at St Joseph’s Maronite Church in Croydon, according to discussions in their WhatsApp chat. They have strong links with St Mary’s Cathedral, the centre of Catholic conservatism in Australia, and say that they will hold monthly prayer meetings on the cathedral steps. They recently gained the support of Spanian, a Sydney-based rapper and social media personality, who was dropped from a record label last month after posting a rant on Instagram alleging that “deadset paedophiles” were behind the World Pride event in Sydney.
The group’s WhatsApp chat is a window into the fascistic worldview of these bigots. Many of the organisers regularly state that LGBTI people are “dirty paedophiles” who “deserve the death penalty” or “a bullet”. In response to a video post of the 50,000-strong World Pride march across Sydney Harbour Bridge, one commented: “time to drop the bomb”.
This vile bigotry hasn’t come from nowhere. Videos from “mainstream” right-wing sources—such as Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Sky News personalities and Liberal politicians—are regularly posted in the chat, as are common far-right references to a “globalist takeover” and the need for Christians to arm themselves against the coming “Satanic campaign” of the “socialist elite”. Charlie Bakhos, founder of the group and a regular speaker at St Joseph’s Men’s Group meetings, was also involved in the anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protests.
While these far-right Christians are a fringe minority, they gain confidence and a sense of legitimacy from their associations with important institutions such as the Catholic church, right-wing media outlets and politicians who spout watered-down versions of the same ideas. It is also worth noting that, only a decade or so ago, both the Liberals and the Labor Party were united in opposing marriage equality.
Christian Lives Matter has joined forces with protestant evangelicals and right-wing Muslims influenced by the notorious misogynist Andrew Tate for another anti-LGBTI protest on 18 March.
This recent flare-up of far-right activism in Sydney hasn’t gone unopposed. Community Action for Rainbow Rights organised a snap action against the fascists in Newtown on Sunday and is planning counter-protests to transphobic UK activist Posie Parker’s speaking tour and the 18 March anti-LGBTI rally.
Protest Posie Parker: Saturday 11 March: fb.me/e/vFZt0AT7
Protest the Christian far-right: Saturday 18 March: fb.me/e/YgpKMgpH
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