Main | Thursday, August 28, 2014

AUSTRALIA: National Senate Formally Condemns World Congress Of Families, Protesters Vow To Block Convention

Today the Australian Senate formally condemned the anti-gay World Congress of Families, which has been booted out of four venues and has not yet disclosed where they might hold this weekend's convention.
The motion was moved by Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters and was agreed to on voices with minimal dissent. “The World Congress of Families is responsible for spreading homophobic and sexist prejudices around the world, including in Russia, the United States, and countries in Eastern Europe and Africa,” it read. The motion also reaffirms equality, tolerance and non-discrimination as “fundamental Australian values”, and reaffirms the “value and dignity of all persons regardless of their gender, sexuality or family status”. Waters drew particular attention to the participation of Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews, who will open and close the conference in Melbourne on Saturday. Other state and federal MPs are also expected to attend. Conference organisers remain tight-lipped on the location of the event after a number of venues have cancelled in response to community outrage over the organisation’s conservative views.
A coalition of pro-gay and feminist groups say they will protest the convention wherever it may take place.
Opponents of the hard-right World Congress of Families have vowed to block attendees from getting into its conference on Saturday, although they do not know where it will be held. The controversial forum features speakers who say abortion causes breast cancer, as well as homophobic speakers. Senior Liberals including Abbott Families Minister Kevin Andrews and Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark are to attend. The Coalition to Beat Back the Far-Right says it has already scored victories, with at least three cancelled venues for the forum.  Radical Women spokeswoman Debbie Brennan said the group expected thousands of people to protest. She also said if the event was held outside Melbourne the group would hold a victory rally in the city. "We are going to make it very difficult for them, we are going to be blocking as much as we can, we are going to be making it very hard for people to get in," Ms Brennan said. "And we [will] certainly make it very loud. They are going to know that we are out there. "The violence that ever comes, comes from the other side. We do have to take into account that the World Congress of Families and the far right generally are violent people."
Sen. Larissa Waters, the author of the above-linked condemnation, has penned an essay for the feminist site MamaMia:
If Minister Andrews and other right-wing politicians intent on attending the conference won’t listen to the Senate, they should at the very least listen to the overwhelming public opposition to the WCF. But Minister Andrews seems to want to block out the community’s protests instead, as evidenced at Parliament House today. Today Minister Andrews refused an invitation to accept a large photo album of diverse family photos submitted by hundreds of Australians, opposed to the Congress’ discriminatory view of what a family should look like. The Minister needs to start listening to the community in all of its wonderful diversity and realise that Australians value love and equality, not prejudice and bigotry. I’m so proud of the way so many Australians have made their voices heard on this issue, which has resulted in Melbourne venues refusing to take the conference on. It couldn’t be clearer that the WCF’s homophobic, sexist, anti-choice views are not the Australian way. As explained by Vocal Majority’s Melanie Poole on Mamamia this week, in many countries, the WCF campaigns against women having abortions even when their lives are at risk. The WCF’s influence has seen LGBTIQ people across the world criminalised and even murdered.
(Tipped by JMG reader Michael)

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