Yelling and screaming abuse, about 50 rainbow activists lined the narrow steps of the Scots’ Church in Melbourne’s Russell Street.
Hundreds of people were forced to run a gauntlet of intimidating verbal bullying and physical jostling to attend a public lecture by New York Times best-selling author Eric Metaxas.
Victoria Police stood by, apparently unable or unwilling to remove the trespassers.
In a free society we accept the right to protest but usually private property is respected and the police assist.
Things turned violent when the protesters bizarrely turned on each other with a fight breaking out on Russell Street.
One of my staff, who was filming the incident on his smartphone, had to turn and run for it.
Fortunately, none of the lecture-goers were involved or were hurt.
Such is the lack of tolerance of those who claim to be running a political campaign with “love” as its slogan.
By all means protest, but respect the law and respect the right of people to hold a different view on marriage.
Just this year, the Australian Christian Lobby has been aggressively targeted by rainbow activists.
We now have to lock our Canberra office after a barrage of various threats and a slow response by the police in tracking an abusive caller.
In February, several of our staff were emailed foul homosexual pornography, including images featuring what looked like minors.
We immediately reported this to the Australian Federal Police but despite following up, we are yet to hear the result of any investigation.
For the second time in a row, rainbow activists targeted the venue hosting our national conference.
For the second time in a row, our keynote political speaker was urged to stay away from us “bigots” – Bill Shorten in 2014 and Scott Morrison this year. Both, to their credit, stood up against the bullies.
In 2014 the Canberra Hyatt held firm against vile abuse posted on its Facebook page urging them to kick us out.
This year it was the turn of the Uniting Church’s Wesley Centre in Sydney to cop the pre-conference tirade.
The Wesley Centre and the Uniting church also held their ground and the conference went ahead with 700 delegates. The leading gay newspaper, the Sydney Star Observer, sent a reporter as they often do to our events – something we welcome.
The headline was “I went to the ACL Conference and it wasn’t that bad.
It makes one wonder why the Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon authorised posters advertising the protest at our conference with the words “stop H8” emblazoned across the rainbow.
(The much hyped Sydney protest turned out to be a fizzer).
If the Sydney Star Observer could sit through a day with 700 ACL conference goers and not find hate, perhaps it is time for the Greens and the rainbow activists to calm down.
Certainly Rhiannon’s Senate colleague, Robert Simms, who a week before our conference got up in Parliament and labelled ACL a “hate group”, owes us and our supporters an apology.
It is cheap and lazy for the Greens to be calling people with whom they disagree “bigots” and “homophobes”.
Abuse and vitriol is what is used by people who are worried their arguments do not stand up to scrutiny.
Over the past few weeks, ACL put its ideas on public display at big events in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
I also appeared on the nationally televised ABC1 Q&A program to have my views and that of Mr Metaxas challenged.
No hate was revealed and no argument was offered that undermined ours.
ACL welcomes a national people’s vote on the definition of marriage. We are happy to put our argument before the Australian people.
We don’t need to slur anyone or act violently to do this. It is time the rainbow lobby engaged the arguments and dropped the abuse.