July 7 2008
Melbourne rally supports growing opposition to World Youth Day
Secular and human rights student activists from around Melbourne have organised a rally to oppose the $150 million in taxpayers’ money going to Catholic World Youth Day. The rally also plans to publicly condemn the Pope’s attitudes towards women, homosexuals, non-believers and contraception.
The rally starts at 1.30pm on Sunday, July 13 and will be held on the steps of Parliament House, Spring Street. Student groups have organised the speakers, who include Australian Humanist of the Year and former Senator Lyn Allison.
On the occasion of World Youth Day, NSW police and emergency service workers have been given the power to hand out fines of up to $5000 to anyone ‘causing an annoyance or inconvenience’ to WYD patrons. “Fortunately, in Melbourne we do not have the same draconian laws as Sydney. We want to show our support to Sydney protesters whose civil liberties have been trampled by the NSW government,” stated Jason Ball, President of the University of Melbourne Secular Society and event spokesperson. “These NSW laws are censorship. Not allowing t-shirts or signs that could ‘annoy’ the participants is a blatant attack on freedom of speech.”
On the state sponsorship of the religious event, Lyn Allison commented “Australia does not have a history of debate and discussion about the appropriate interface between church and state. The current issues now provide an opportunity to start a real debate on the need for and ways of separating church and state. Other countries are doing this. Norway is consulting nation wide on formal separation. It is time that Australia followed suit.”
The rally will also be protesting the Catholic Church’s opposition to the use of condoms, even in AIDS ridden Africa. “Restricting contraception in developing countries is a clear breach of the right to health,” says women’s rights activist and speaker at the rally, Sue Bolton. “Furthermore, the Pope’s opposition to abortion condemns thousands of women to death each year through backyard abortions. The Pope labels homosexuality an ‘intrinsic moral evil,’ which is divisive and discriminatory, and only encourages the spread of homophobia.”
At the rally, volunteers will be handing out condoms and collecting donations for the Victorian AIDS Council. They will also be wearing t-shirts and holding banners that openly critisise the Pope’s views, which due to the new laws is a freedom exclusive to citizens outside of NSW.
For more information and full list of speakers go to: