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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 12 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 37
Aussie activists take on World Congress of Families
Section One
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Aussie activists take on World Congress of Families

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Australian human rights activists disrupted the August 30 opening day of the World Congress of Families conference in Melbourne, Australia.

According to the Guardian newspaper, about 100 demonstrators blocked the entrance to the building where the conference was to take place, preventing many of the scheduled speakers from entering.

Monty Python's satirical song 'Every Sperm is Sacred' boomed from a sound system and demonstrators waved signs with slogans like 'Our bodies are our Property' and 'Women are not Incubators.'

Thirty police officers formed a defensive line inside the entrance and conference security checked IDs to make sure only registered attendees entered, forcing conference-goers to trickle in one by one.

In spite of the security precautions, one protester managed to sneak in as a registered guest. About 15 minutes into the program, Phaedra Press from the Whistleblowers, Activists, and Citizens Alliance stormed the stage. She was dressed all in white and covered herself in fake blood in front of Australian politician and conference organizer Rev. Fred Nile and his wife.

'We don't want your backyard abortions,' she shouted, before being marched out.

According the The Age newspaper, conference attendees were visibly shaken by the security breach and turned to prayer as the woman was hustled outside.

Outside, two protestors were arrested.

The World Congress of Families was supposed to allow right-wing Christians to gather and hear international speakers deliver an anti-abortion, anti-Gay, and anti-feminist message.

Nile and other Australian politicians were to have been featured speakers, along with controversial American doctor Angela Lafranchi, who was going to use the opportunity to push her theory that breast cancer is linked to abortion.

But things began to go awry for the conference planners after two Catholic churches and three other venues pulled out of hosting it.

Threats of protests were only one reason for the cancellations. Event organizers had not purchased liability insurance or arranged security, and the small churches in suburban Melbourne were advised by police they could not accommodate the 350 guests expected to attend.

Then the right-wing megachurch Catch the Fire stepped up to provide a venue, but while space problems were solved, the church turned out to be too controversial for most of the politicians scheduled to speak. All but Nile withdrew the day before the conference was to start.

Nile, party leader of the New South Wales Christian Democrats, is known for his strident anti-Gay views. He has called for abolishing Sydney Mardi Gras on the grounds that it is a 'public parade of immorality and blasphemy.' In 2010, Niles made headlines when it was discovered that his official state parliament computer had been used to download vast amounts of porn.

His conference host, Rev. Daniel Nalliah of Catch the Fire, is the founder of the anti-Islamic immigrant party Rise Up Australia. He once claimed that outback brush fires were God's punishment for Australia's liberal abortion laws.

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