Australian Christian Democrat Peter Madden has backed off plans to hold an anti-equality rally in Sydney on Sunday, citing conversations with police and safety concern.
'Have asked people not [to] come to atheist day rally this Sunday [for] their own safety,' Madden tweeted today (28 March). Vowing to go to Hyde Park North at 3pm alone to answer questions and concerns of the gay community, he asks supporters to pray from wherever they are instead.
This followed the call for a ‘non-confrontational’ and ‘respecful’ anti-rally by a Christian group against the right-wing preacher known particularly for a truck that has featured a picture with a man and a boy besides the words 'the dark side of same sex marriage’ and one reading ‘homosexual sex ed for your children’.
New South Wales police have denied advising Madden against his sit-in and have even rostered for the event, according to a report.
Last Thursday (22 March), Madden managed to gather a small group of supporters in Brisbane to pray for the ouster of the Australian Labor Party from parliament due to the latter’s support for civil unions.
This drew a 500-strong pro-rights activists who threw eggs, sounded sirens and chanted at him, reported the Courier Mail.
These protesters ‘drowned out’ his supporters, ‘scaring away most of those who would have attended, argued Madden.
While the preacher had indeed failed to gather more than a few of his supporters on several other occasions, it is true that pro-gay protesters often clashed with him.
For instance, they vandalised his truck with paint and glitter earlier this month in Lismore, a town in north-eastern New South Wales, according to the ABC.
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell said she did not support vandalism but was supportive of the protesters’ message, since the truck suggested links between homosexuality and pedophilia.
Madden plans to run for the NSW upper house in the next election. The ALP’s loss last Saturday (24 March), he argued, spoke clearly that Australians ‘wouldn’t put up with’ the party.