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'World Congress' of Homophobia Sparks Protests Down Under

by Kilian Melloy
Monday Sep 1, 2014
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  (Source:Melbourne Street Medics/Facebook)

The World Congress of Families, listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group for its vicious rhetoric and support of discriminatory laws, convened in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, over the weekend.

One speaker -- Family Life International Australia's Paul Hanrahan -- compared abortion to horrific acts of terrorism and murder in Syria, while an American doctor, Angela Lafranchi, headlined on the strength of a purported link between abortion and breast cancer. UK newspaper The Guardian noted that Lafranchi's putative link between abortion and breast cancers has been "thoroughly debunked."

But facts have never gotten in the way of a good hate rally, and gay bashing was the order of the day. Notoriously homophobic Australian Minister of Parliament Fred Nile was on hand along with a host of other locally-sourced leading homophobes such as the leader of a hard-right church, Daniel Nalliah, who once declared devastating bushfires to be the direct result of legal abortion.

There was also a hefty dose of imported nonsense in the form of claims by Larry Jacobs, the American managing director of the WCF, who tossed economic reality out the window when he placed the blame for global poverty statistics at the feet of same-sex couples who take up the legal and financial responsibility of caring for one another and for children they might raise together.

The fix for the kind of economic disparity that's taken root in the United States and long defined lives of limited opportunity in third world nations? Restricting marriage as a special right to be enjoyed solely by heterosexuals. "Ninety per cent of poverty can be solved simply through the affirmation of marriage," Jacobs announced, Australian newspaper The Age reported on Aug. 30.

Jacobs also shrugged off an enormous body of evidence that homosexuality is rooted in biology, declaring that members of the WCF "do not believe that homosexuality is innate or genetic" and suggesting that gays should still be classified as mentally ill, as UK newspaper The Guardian reported on Sept. 1.

The usual tirades against marriage equality and same-sex parents were only some of the featured attractions to the event's carnival of magical thinking, however; colorful protestors served to enliven the convention, with an anti-abortion protestor covering herself in fake blood, and drag performer Barb Wire on hand.

The righteous simply looked down their noses at their counterparts, with Australian Marriage Forum's Dr. David van Gend calling the protestors a "feral mob" and MP Nile declaring that Satan had made pawns of the protestors.

For a "feral mob," the protestors were extraordinarily well behaved. The only act of actual violence was committed by a conference attendee: As reported by The Age, "One protester, Sam Castro from the Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance said she was hit in the back of the head by one of the World Congress of Families attendees on their way in Saturday morning."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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