A group intending to counter-protest at an annual anti-abortion rally in Sydney on Sunday have called off the action, saying the “disappointing” decision was made for safety.
The University of Sydney Women’s Collective released a statement on Saturday night, cancelling the planned protest after a recent violent clash.
“This decision has not been made lightly, but has been made collectively as we believe that it is the right thing to do for the safety of our collective,” organisers said.
“It has become increasingly clear that we cannot ensure the safety of the action and that the threat of violence would instead work to drown out our political message.
“This protest is no longer a protest against the usual attendees … It is a protest against a violent group of people whose only intention is to cause harm.”
The riot squad were called after more than 500 people turned up to protest outside St Michael’s Church in Belfield on March 21. NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper
The Collective had been planning to protest the “Day of the Unborn Child” rally, organised by pro-life organisation the Life and Family Institute of Sydney.
Those rallying are expected to begin marching from St Mary’s Cathedral at midday and travel past Parliament House, led by the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher.
The protest will start just 25m from a Macquarie Street abortion clinic.
Rally organiser Paul Hanrahan wrote on the event’s Facebook page on Thursday calling for calm amid fears it will become another flashpoint.
“The police have contacted us and [said] they have particular concerns, especially after the clashes between the ‘rainbow rights’ group and hundreds of counter-protesters outside a Mark Latham event at Belfield Parish last night, as well as events at Hyde Park last weekend,” he said.
Police were quick to respond as far right religious groups targeting LGBTI people in Sydney stand off with opposing protesting group, Community Action for Rainbow Rights. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper
“[Police] have assured us the security of our group and our right to hold our event is their primary concern, and they will do everything in their power to ensure that.
“We are not there to engage with any protesters but to carry our cross.”
The announcements by both rally and protest organisers comes after a violent clash outside a St Michael’s Church in Belfield on March 21.
The violence between activists for religious group Christian Lives Matter and pro-trans rights groups attended the church to protest Mark Latham‘s speech on parental rights and religious freedom.
Three men – aged 34, 41 and 41-years-old – were charged following the incident and will appear before court next month.
The Coalition for Rainbow Rights and the University of Sydney Women’s Collective were among the counter protesters.
NSW Police said they would work with groups at the anti-abortion rally on Sunday to keep the peace.
Read related topics:Sydney