On the evening of 27.08.16. the far-right religious conservative, transphobic, queerphobic hate group the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) held an event at Scot’s Church in Naarm / Melbourne CBD.
The ACL have been running a hateful campaign in conjunction with the ruling Liberal National Party (LNP) that has resulted in the LNP cutting vital aspects of the Safe Schools program, a program that was set up to stop bullying of LGBTQI kids in schools. In Tasmania, the ACL are attempting to block changes to Equal Opportunity legislation which would remove obstacles that currently prevent Transgender people from changing the sex indicated on their birth certificates. The ACL are also campaigning to repeal abortion laws in Victoria and to block change to laws affecting sex workers in South Australia.
One of the speakers at the Naarm / Melbourne event included Eric Metaxas, a conservative bigot from the USA who is infamous for campaigning against marriage equality being legalized and for being part of the attack against Trans people using public toilets.
In response, the mainstream queer group Equal Love organized what was touted as being a peaceful ‘speak out’ against the event. However a sizable contingent of militant LGBTQI anarchists, antifascists and anti-authoritarians and their supporters were in attendance and quickly decided that a counter-protest and blockade of the event would also take place.
Previous events organized by Equal Love have been justifiably criticized for not centering the issues of Transphobia and Transmisogny as well as placing nearly all of the emphasis on mainstream queer issues such as marriage equality. This time however a banner reading ‘TRANSPHOBIA KILLS’ was displayed prominently during the counter-demonstration along with the Trans flag and the Pink Bloc ‘QUEERS REVOLT’ banner that was last seen at the disruption of the mainstream ‘Melbourne Pride Parade’. Many different voices were heard on the open mic, including one memorable speech by a young Trans activist who stated that it was the responsibility of cis-gendered queer activists to ensure that Trans issues were centered, they also stated that cis-normativity and homo-normativity in our community need to be confronted and destroyed.
While the blockade did not succeed in shutting down the event completely, many bigoted ACL supporters were prevented from getting inside the church and the ones who did attend had to run the gauntlet of angry protesters. Several ACL bigots tried to violently storm their way into the church but the blockaders stood their ground. As per usual an over the top Victoria Police presence was in attendance using disproportionate levels of violence in response to what was in essence a fairly peaceful blockade.
Towards the end of the counter-demonstration local fascist Neil Erikson, a former member of neo-nazi group United Patriots Front turned up with his camera-person in toe and immediately began trying to provoke and intimidate the counter-demonstrators. A scuffle ensued that resulted in Erikson having to make a very hasty exit with a bloodied face and some serious bruising. Unfortunately police intervened and deployed capsicum-spray; two counter-demonstrators were detained as a result of this scuffle, however latest reports indicate that they were both issued fines for ‘breach of the peace’ and were not charged with any criminal offences. Laughably, Erikson later took to social media making the ludicrous claim that although he had ‘got the shit kicked out of him’ he somehow managed to seriously assault a local anarchist.
All in all a successful counter-demonstration and blockade with the added bonus of seeing a prominent fascist getting his comeuppance!