Main | Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Don't Annoy The Pope

Australian gays and progressives are annoyed by a new law against "annoying" the attendees of next week's World Youth Day with Ill Papa.
Wearing T-shirts that read "Pope Go Homo" and "The pope is wrong, put a condom on!," a dozen demonstrators poked fun Wednesday at a new Australian law meant to protect participants of next week's World Youth Day from being annoyed by opponents. The new rules, which critics have panned as a form of censorship, give authorities the power to order anyone to stop behavior that "causes annoyance or inconvenience" to the 250,000 pilgrims expected in Sydney for the Roman Catholic festival being held July 15-20.

Anyone who doesn't comply could face a fine of $5,300. The law will apply in dozens of areas of downtown Sydney - including the city's landmark opera house, train stations and city parks - that are designated venues for World Youth Day, which will culminate in a papal mass.

Police and the New South Wales state government say they are a necessary security measure. Libertarians and rights activists disagree. "These annoyance laws are outrageous," said Rachel Evans, a spokeswoman for the NoToPope Coalition that helped organize Wednesday's protest.

The coalition, made up of gay rights, student and atheist groups, is planning a July 19 march to protest what it calls the pope's homophobic and antiquated ideas. The group is also planning to distribute condoms to young pilgrims and speak with them about human rights issues.

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