On Tuesday evening, a group of peaceful LGBT protesters were set upon by a mob of around 250 people outside a church event attended by right-wing politician Mark Latham in Belfield, south-west Sydney. According to Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR), “hundreds of far-right thugs” punched protesters outside the church. The incident resulted in glass bottles and other projectiles being thrown at officers, and a 38-year-old man being pushed to the ground and assaulted. Riot police were called in to disperse the crowd, and two men were arrested and charged with encouraging the commission of crimes and common assault, respectively.
According to New South Wales Police Superintendent Sheridan Waldau, she expected further arrests on Wednesday as police reviewed footage of the incident. Video posted on Facebook showed a crowd of men confronting the LGBT activists and appearing to throw punches. Mark Latham, a member of the right-wing populist One Nation party, who is currently campaigning in the New South Wales state election, said the meeting was being held to discuss “religious freedom and parental rights”. He said the event had not been organised by One Nation or himself, and police had advised him not to speak at the event, which he called “a denial of democracy”.
The incident in Sydney comes just days after clashes between pro- and anti-transgender groups in Melbourne, outside the Victorian state parliament. The presence of neo-Nazis at that event, in apparent support of British activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, has triggered a huge backlash, with calls for Victoria to tighten up state laws on the display of hate symbols, including Nazi salutes. The Australian Liberal Party is also attempting to expel its MP Moira Deeming, who attended the event and was photographed alongside Ms Keen-Minshull.
The Sydney clash has caused outrage among LGBT groups, with the Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR) describing several activists being “punched in the face multiple times as they were surrounded by a mob 30 times their size”. The incident has raised concerns about rising violence against the LGBT community in Australia, particularly during election season. In response, LGBT groups have called on the government to do more to protect their rights and safety.
In conclusion, incidents of violence and hate against the LGBT community in Australia have raised concerns about their safety and rights. The clashes in Sydney and Melbourne have sparked a backlash against hate symbols and right-wing extremism, with calls for stricter laws and greater protections for the LGBT community. The events have also highlighted the need for greater dialogue and understanding between different communities, particularly during election season.