A large group of Christian fascists descended upon Newtown on Friday night, marching in a pack along King Street and hurling abusive slurs at locals.
Fuelled by homophobic and transphobic sentiment and spurred by the success of WorldPride, the men’s presence was a clear attempt to intimate the local community.
The group goes by the name of Christian Lives Matter, despite the fact that Christians have never been anything of a persecuted minority on this continent.
Indeed, Christians have always held and continue to hold some of the most significant social and political power since invasion.
In scenes that locals were continuing to reel from on Saturday morning, the pack of Christian fascists chanted the Lord’s Prayer as they marched down one of the city’s most diverse and vibrant streets, in a scene that visually evoked the 2017 far-right mobilisations in the US city of Charlottesville.
Numerous accounts cite NSW police officers as having simply accompanied the unauthorised protest as it marched down the high street, even though the Perrottet government and state law enforcement have been stamping out unapproved demonstrations over the last 12 months.
“It must be because they share the same god,” remarked one local, who further explained that after its assault upon King Street, the group of ardent Jesus devotees subjected Erskineville’s main drag to their prayers, prior to congregating in the local park and then being moved on by police.
And those gathered in Pride Square on Sunday morning for the Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR) snap action sent a clear message that the anti-LGBTIQ agitators that turned up on Friday evening aren’t welcome in their neighbourhood and they can basically “fuck off”.
Complicit in nonreaction
“Everyone got a bit shaken by what happened,” said NSW Greens MP for Newtown Jenny Leong. “We also shamefully see more police and riot squad around the corner for this peaceful action than we did for the bigots marching and intimidating in our community on Friday night.”
“The videos looked like NSW police were escorting the group up Enmore Road,” she continued. “So, instead of police stopping that action and the intimidation that was going on – people were being spat on – the police were simply making notes in their notebooks.”
A long-time Newtown local, Leong underscored that this prejudicial demonstration was being carried out in a community that already fears police intimidation, as locals are readily stopped and searched by law enforcement officers.
And the reaction of the NSW Police Force to the Christian fascists was in stark contrast to how it might react to an unannounced and unauthorised protest carried out by a First Nations group, a trans rights organisation or climate defenders.
Leong also pointed to the travesty involved in the group’s name. The NSW Greens member told ralliers that “lives matter” should only be preceded by “Black or Aboriginal”, and that this misappropriation by members of society’s dominant religious faith is racist to the core.
“Queer people are seeing an endless attack on their rights, supported by the NSW police and delivered by the bigots and homophobes that sit in our parliament,” said Leong, adding that the incident was a clear demonstration of toxic masculinity attempting to intimidate people.
“We say no fucking way to that ever,” she declared. “We say fuck them.”
A sign the far-right is losing
CARR spokesperson Eddie Stephenson told Sydney Criminal Lawyers that Christian Lives Matter are a group of “hardcore far-right bigots” reacting to WorldPride, at a time when homophobic and transphobic prejudice is waning.
“They went into different gay bars and pubs to yell at the patrons and tried to intimidate them. They generally tried to push back on the confidence of queer people in and around Newtown,” she said. “The most infuriating thing about it is they’re trying to gear homophobia back up.”
According to the queer rights activist, this was no isolated incident, as the same Christian fascists have been “defacing WorldPride murals” around the city, and, as we were speaking, prejudicial graffiti was being removed from Pride Square.
These mobilisations also link to a rise in far-right anti-LGBTIQ attacks in the United States.
Stephenson advised that one of the most prominent Christian Lives Matter members, Charlie Bakhos, posted footage of himself on Friday, approaching NSW premier Dominic Perrottet and petitioning him “to stand up more for our faith, when we get knocked on social media and TV.”
Bakhos was referring to the appearance of comedian Reuben Kaye on The Project last week, which saw him say, “I love Jesus. I love any man who can get nailed for three days straight and come back for more.” And Project host Sarah Harris obviously enjoyed the laugh as she cracked up in response.
“I know why Christian Lives Matter are so angry and so upset and why they feel the need to come out to Newtown and pray and beg and plead to the lord to give them back their rights as bigots,” Stephenson said, over the loudspeaker on leading the CARR rally, “it’s because they’re losing.”
“They’ve been losing for years, for decades. They’ve been losing since we won marriage equality,” the activist made clear.
“So, we’re here to say that you’re going to continue to lose. Every time you come out and try to spread your bigotry, we are going to come out and continue to fight for our liberation.”