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Queer rights protesters attacked by far-right hate group

Members of Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR) were attacked while peacefully protesting an anti-trans event in Belfield on Tuesday night.

Image: Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR)

CW: Honi wishes to advise its readers — particularly those belonging to the queer and transgender communities — that this article discusses violence and transphobia, and includes video footage of a known hate group.

A peaceful speak-out, held by Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR), ended in violence on Tuesday night, as protesters were attacked by a mob believed to be tied to far-right group Christian Lives Matter.

“Tonight hundreds of violent far-right thugs attacked a small peaceful speak-out of LGBTIQ+ activists with glass bottles, rocks and their fists. Several people were punched in the face multiple times and hit with rocks and bottles as they were surrounded by a mob 30 times their size,” said CARR yesterday, in a statement posted to Twitter.

“This is a disgusting and violent escalation by the anti-LGBTI+ far-right protesters who recently marched through Newtown in protest against World Pride.”

One Nation’s Mark Latham — notorious for his views towards queer and trans people, particularly against discussion of gender diversity in classrooms — spoke at a community meeting at St Michael’s Church in Belfield, when hundreds of people “charged out of the church” and set upon the speak-out, which was occurring “more than a block away”.

One of the speak-out’s organisers, who has asked to remain anonymous for their own safety, said in the Guardian this morning that the group used rocks and bottles as projectiles, with many punching and kicking protesters.

“They grabbed one of the protesters by the hair and threw them to the ground, they punched people in the face, they threw bottles, handfuls of gravel,” they said.

Source: CARR’s Facebook Page

Although NSW Police were present, they were overwhelmed by the mob and struggled to maintain a barrier between the protesters and their attackers.

“They barely had a handle on it, they barely had enough people to maintain a line between us and them. These (…) people kept jumping in and throwing their fists at the top of our heads and stuff like that,” said one of the speak-out’s organisers.

According to NSW Police, two people were arrested following a “public order incident” involving approximately 500 people — less than 50 of whom were CARR protesters. CARR labelled the attack as a targeted assault, rather than a random violent outburst. 

Member of Christian Lives Matter Christian Sukkar — who has denied involvement in the Belfield attack, despite allegedly being present at St Mary’s and having been witnessed assaulting protestors — posted a video to Facebook before the speak-out. In the video, he shares the following message with Christian Lives Matter militants: “if you are going down to see the protestors there is only one way, that is to grab them and grab them by the hair […] the real boys, the real motherfucking G’s are going to go down there tomorrow and you’re going to shake them up […] time to rise, time to stand.”

This attack is the latest in a series of escalating attacks on the queer and trans communities in Sydney, perpetrated largely by the far-right hate group Christian Lives Matter — the same group responsible for an anti-queer march earlier this month.

A Facebook group labelled Christian Lives Matter has been alarmingly posting criticism of coverage about these protests and identifiable information (including images) of counter-protestors asking their audience to share any more available information with them.

It also follows an alarming trend of growing far-right action across Australia. Earlier this week, the Australian National Socialists Movement — a self-proclaimed Nazi group — assembled on the steps of Victorian Parliament in support of an anti-trans rally. 

In a statement to Honi, USyd SRC Queer Officers Yasmin Andrews and Ella Pash condemned this rise in far-right aggression, particularly the apathy and complicity demonstrated by police and governments.

“In the events over the past couple of weeks, we have seen how the state and its powers, such as the police force, is complicit in this problem,” their statement read.

“We are past the wake up call, and must rise to push back the far right (…) and build a community of activists with the skills and knowledge to win this fight.”

If this article has raised concerns for you or someone you know, contact QLife — Australia’s first nationally-oriented counselling and referral service for LGBTIQ+ people on 1800 184 527.

If you are in crisis, Lifeline is available 24/7 at 13 11 14.

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