A group of “Christian Lives Matter” protesters have picketed a “Heaps Gay” concert in Sydney, chanting hymns in a bid to drown out the music.
The City of Sydney is running a month-long series of outdoor “Sunset Piazza” concerts in the publicly-owned St Mary’s Cathedral forecourt in the inner-city.
As part of the series, event producers Heaps Gay put on their Live N’ Queer concert on Saturday evening.
The promoters described the event as a “chaotic queer variety show” featuring some of the year’s “loudest and queerest acts”.
However an ad used by Heaps Gay to promote the show featured an illustration of the adjacent St Mary’s Cathedral, outraging Christians.
Last week, the city council pulled the ad after a complaint from the Sydney Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher.
On Saturday night, the group of “Christian Lives Matter” protesters gathered on the steps of the Cathedral ahead of the concert.
The protesters chanted hymns and held up religious banners as the Heaps Gay concert went ahead nearby.
Heaps Gay concert ‘makes a mockery of Christianity’
Christian Lives Matter organiser Charlie Bakhos claimed the concert organisers were making a “mockery of the Catholic Church and Christianity in general”.
“Time to really show up and defend our church and our faith. The most powerful way is through prayer,” he said on Facebook.
“Stand united in prayer, pray for them, pray for their conversion and stand in defending our faith.”
LGBTIQ activist Sally Rugg shared a photo of the religious protest on Twitter “for allies to see”.
“As LGBT people arrived for a dance, they were met with a large protest against our existence, under the title of ‘Christian Lives Matter’,” Rugg tweeted.
“I don’t want to amplify this group’s message. But I do want people to see this, because this is LGBTQ people’s constant lived experience.
“We live our lives with constant reminders that many people believe we don’t or shouldn’t exist.”
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Catholic Archbishop slams ‘insensitive’ ad featuring church
Last week, the city council pulled the ad after Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher criticised the “insensitive” use of the church.
“The Cathedral Forecourt is council land and not church property. [The] decision about the content of the concert and its advertising is unfortunately not ours to make,” Archbishop Fisher said.
“We have asked City of Sydney to remove the Cathedral image from the advertising.
“It is frustrating and upsetting that St Mary’s Cathedral, the mother church of Australia, has been used so provocatively to promote this event and such little sensitivity shown to people of faith.”
A City of Sydney spokesperson said the council had ordered the removal of the ad to “avoid any confusion”.
“In the lead-up and throughout the staging of [the events], the City consulted and liaised closely with St Mary’s Cathedral representatives,” they explained.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore also said Sydney was a place that valued diversity and inclusion.
“There is no place for hate, intolerance or the sowing of division,” she said.
“As we seek to recover from [the pandemic], we will continue to host inclusive, accessible and safe events.”
Earlier this week, organisers Heaps Gay posted footage of the concert’s finale to Instagram.
“Thankyou to @cityofsydney & @sydney_festival for providing space for queer arts to be seen and heard,” they wrote.
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