Eastern Avenue ‘No’ stall overrun by pro-marriage equality student activists

The stall was surrounded by a large crowd of counter-protesters and curious onlookers.

Co-Queer Officer Connor Parissis and a member of the 'No' stall face off in the middle of the rally. Photo: Kishor Napier-Raman

A group of pro-marriage equality students have formed a rally on Eastern Avenue in response to a ‘Free Kebab’ stall run by anti-marriage equality groups on Eastern Avenue.

The stall was manned by 10 to 15 students handing out food and putting up posters nearby. Members of the University of Sydney Union (USU) Catholic Society and SOPHIA, the University’s Orthodox Christian Fellowship, were present in an informal capacity not affiliated with their society.

Co-Students’ Representative Council (SRC) Queer Officer Connor Parissis told Honi the counter-rally “mobilised by 12:30” and “definitely [had] over 100 Yes supporters” compared to “a dozen No campaigners”.

According to Parissis, police showed up at the counter-rally “immediately”, with around 10 officers seen on the ground.

One student was dragged out of the rally by police and another shoved by them.

A student is dragged out of the rally by police; witnesses say he attempted to grab one of the ‘No’ campaigners’ signs. Video by Aidan Molins.

Three ‘No’ campaigners walked around the circle of students gathered at the rally with large “IT’S OK TO SAY NO” signs, and ‘Yes’ campaigners threw glitter at them.

One of the ‘No’ campaigners has appeared in videos by Verum Media, a self-described “alternative news source bringing you the latest news, views and reviews”. They have in the past published videos criticising same-sex marriage and the Safe Schools program.

Students at the protest stated that they had heard ‘No’ campaigners equating homosexuality to paedophilia, incest, and bestiality.

Towards the end of the rally, ‘Yes’ campaigners were holding a megaphone and offering it to anyone who wanted to share their experiences, while others chalked messages in support of marriage equality on the ground around the stall.

Honi approached the stall’s organiser, Tony Mattar, who declined to comment.

Edited 15/07/17: This article originally incorrectly stated that the stall was “set up jointly by the University of Sydney Union’s CathSoc and Greek Orthodox Society”. This has since been corrected.

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