|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
A travelling anti-gay marriage prayer rally will go ahead as planned in Brisbane this Thursday despite a dramatic counter-demonstration in Lismore at the weekend that saw residents chain themselves to the protest truck.
Christian Democratic Party candidate and anti-gay marriage protest leader Peter Madden awoke yesterday to find his campaign truck defaced and blockaded amid claims he was vilifying homosexuals.
But Mr Madden carried on with his mission to protest in Brisbane after New South Wales police used saws and bolt cutter to remove two protesters who had chained themselves to the truck by the neck.
The Stand for Marriage Queensland Election Prayer Rally Tour was at the Gold Coast this morning when Mr Madden spoke to brisbanetimes.com.au.
“We will be in King George Square on Thursday,” he said. “We could get as little as 200 or as many as 1000 people turn out in support.
“It stirs the emotions – this issue [same-sex marriage] – and I expect we'll encounter counter-protests in Brisbane; I welcome discussion and debate.”
Brisbane equal rights activist Phil Browne, who last week condemned the protest on the grounds of vilification, renewed his call for Lord Mayor Graham Quirk to speak out against the rally.
Mr Browne said he was heartened by the public response made by Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell in response to yesterday's clash.
Though she did not condone the “malicious damage” caused to Mr Madden's truck, Cr Dowell said she did not support the messages the protest vehicle was carrying. "I did express strongly to [Mr Madden] that those views and that truck were not welcome here,” Cr Dowell told the Northern Star. “The signs were linking homosexuality to paedophilia and those views are not welcome in Lismore.”
Paraphrasing Desmond Tutu in relation to a response from Brisbane City Council, Mr Browne said that to be neutral in injustice merely supported the status quo.
“The Lord Mayor [Graham Quirk] must issue a public statement saying promoting messages that if same-sex marriage is legalised children will not be safe, is not acceptable,” he said.
A spokesman for the Lord Mayor said people had a right to protest and council would not be censoring that right. The spokesman said council would only step in if there were concerns over whether the group would be breaking any public laws.
In addition to the prayer rally at King George Square, Mr Madden said the tour would focus on marginal Labor Party state seats in Brisbane's south, along with Graham Perrett's federal seat of Moreton.
Mr Perrett's role as chair of the parliamentary inquiry into same-sex marriage before the House of Representatives made him a target of the protest, Mr Madden said.