The Australian Christian Lobby has threatened to sue after they were barred from holding a Western Australian event at a publicly-owned Albany venue.
The Perth Theatre Trust, a government agency, operates several publicly-owned theatre venues across the state.
Last month, the Trust reportedly barred the ACL from hiring the Albany Entertainment Centre or the Perth Concert Hall for the Christian political lobby group’s The Truth of It LIVE event.
The live stage show is hosted by managing director Martyn Iles (pictured left). The ACL are touring the show around the country.
The group states that attendees will hear Iles “apply Biblical truth to the current issues of the day.”
“Peter Abetz will also speak on local political issues,” the ACL says in the description.
It’s understood the Trust’s policy allows them to reject hire requests from political parties for electioneering or organisations with “politically-motivated objectives”.
Australian Christian Lobby planning legal action
The ACL’s WA director Peter Abetz (pictured centre) said the group are outraged by the ban.
He said the ACL are planning to take the matter to the Equal Opportunity Commission.
“We were informed that due to the nature of the events politically motivated objectives we can not accept your booking,” he told radio station 6PR.
“They’re saying we can’t have him there because of his political religious beliefs.
“This is a venue which is refusing to provide a service because of his views. That’s in breach of section 62 of the Equal Opportunity Act.
“In a democratic society I think this is really just totally inappropriate for government to put in policy.
“Basically trying to prevent people from accessing venues that don’t share every aspect of their views.
“Any group should be able to book a venue as long as they pay the normal fee.”
WA Arts and Culture Minister David Templeman is responsible for the Perth Theatre Trust.
Templeman said in a statement the Trust had made the decision without his involvement.
“The PTT leases venues in accordance with the conditions of its venue hire policy,” he said.
“The Perth Theatre Trust has made the decision to deny a booking request in line with its venue hire policy.
“This decision was made independent of the Minister, as is appropriate.”
Albany Pride support ban due to ACL’s prejudice
Local LGBTIQ organisation Albany Pride was one of several groups to weigh in on the ACL’s rejection.
They argued the ACL has a “long history of opposing any kind of advancement of LGBTQIA+ rights and freedoms,” including in their area.
“[They] often demonise and misrepresent LGBTQIA+ people and groups in the process, and continue to do so,” the group said.
Albany Pride argued a similar ban would also be appropriate to stop any group seeking a venue to promote discrimination against Christians.
For example, a group trying to ban Christians from civil marriage or adoption, banning Christianity from schools or promoting discrimination against Christians at work.
“The Australian Christian Lobby have long campaigned [in these areas] with regards to LGBTQIA+ people,” they wrote.
“‘Religious freedom’ is not a justifiable excuse for any other kind of discrimination or prejudice.
“We expect the Perth Theatre Trust would not agree to allow a group that sought to demonise and restrict the rights and freedoms of any other demographic (such as on the basis of ethnicity, ability, age, etc) to host an event.
“[We] fail to see why this is any different.
“Albany Pride fully supports the decision of the Perth Theatre Trust. We would implore them to follow through with it.”
WA pastor Margaret Court is also furious. She has called for Western Australians to “stand up” to state Premier Mark McGowan.
Court claimed Martyn Iles was “unable to hire the [venues] because his views do not line up with the present WA government.”
“I want to call on all Australians to action. Call and write to Premier McGowan or your local MPs and say, ‘This is not right,’” she said.
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