The protesters held a public rosary as they attempted to drown out the concert (Facebook/Christian Lives Matter)
A group of anti-LGBT+ ‘Christian Lives Matter’ protesters staged a bizarre protest in Sydney in an attempt to drown out a gay concert.
Organised by Heaps Gay, the outdoor “Live & Queer” variety performance was the scene of an ugly confrontation on the publicly-owned Cathedral Square in Sydney city centre on Saturday (22 February).
The self-described “chaotic queer variety show” was the latest in a series of city-sanctioned event series making use of the public outdoor space as lockdown eases, with a pop-up venue opening at the site.
However, activists from a so-called ‘Christian Lives Matter’ group assembled outside the adjacent St Mary’s Cathedral as the event went ahead on Saturday, waving Biblical banners and loudly singing tone-deaf hymns in an apparent bid to disrupt the show.
‘Christian Lives Matter’ activists attempt to drown out gay concert
Speaking to Pedestrian.TV, one performer at the Live & Queer event said: “They were trying to drown out the music with hymns. You could definitely see and hear the Christians.”
The performer said they were given the option of a police escort out of the pop-up venue for their own safety after the incident.
Protest organiser Charlie Bakhos claimed that the LGBT+ event was a “mockery of the Catholic Church and Christianity in general”, vowing in a video ahead of the protest: “Tonight we’re going to go out at 7pm and we’re going to pray a very powerful Rosary.
“I call every Christian in Sydney to come… pray from the heart. Be peaceful, don’t cause any trouble, but through prayer anything can be solved.”
He went on to compare gay people to murderers and drug dealers as he added: “Jesus died on that cross for every single one of us… pray for them, pray for their conversion, ad most of all, stand defending our faith.”
Archbishop’s public attacks on gay event sparked protests
The protests were ignited after Sydney archbishop Anthony Fisher publicly attacked the event, criticising organisers for using flyers in which the Cathedral was displayed, in the background.
Taking to Facebook, he wrote: “Friends, it has been brought to my attention that, as part of the Sunset Piazza performance series, a concert titled ‘Heaps Gay’ will be held on the Cathedral forecourt this weekend, and that an image of the Cathedral façade has been used in its promotion.
“As the Cathedral Forecourt is council land and not church property, the decision about the content of the concert and its advertising is unfortunately not ours to make.
“We have asked City of Sydney that the Cathedral image be removed from the advertising. It is frustrating and upsetting that St Mary’s Cathedral, the mother church of Australia, has been used so provocatively to promote this event and such little sensitivity shown to people of faith.”
He added: “In this great season of Lent, we need to pray to ask the Lord that in our great and ‘tolerant’ city of Sydney, that religious belief will be respected and protected and that we will all rediscover an appreciation for what is sacred. This Lent, I’d encourage you all to make a pilgrimage to St Mary’s Cathedral for Mass, Confession, or private prayer. I look forward to welcoming you there.”
Fisher, a long-time opponent of LGBT+ rights, has not yet publicly condemned the group who attempted to disrupt the event on Saturday.