Police bid to stop LGBTQ+ protest outside homophobic cardinal George Pell’s funeral

A photo of the late Cardinal George Pell wearing

Police in Sydney, Australia are reportedly seeking a court order to block LGBTQ+ protestors from marching at the funeral of homophobic Catholic church cardinal and convicted sex offender, George Pell.

Community Action for Rainbow Rights, a Sydney-based campaign group, announced there would be a protest march through Sydney to St Mary’s Cathedral this Thursday (2 February) – the day of George Pell’s requiem mass.

However, the Guardian has reported seeing documents showing New South Wales police are looking to the supreme court to prevent the protest from happening outside the cathedral.

As reported by the Guardian, the police can seek to block protestors from gathering outside the cathedral under section 25 of the state’s summary offences act.

Group organisers have said it’s “baffling” NSW police have flagged the gathering as a safety concern.

“We’re not at all proposing to enter the space where the funeral is happening or even to disrupt it,” said April Holocombe, Community Action for Rainbow Rights co-convener.

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“We’re just saying that on the road next to the cathedral we’re going to be marching past in a peaceful procession as part of a route that takes us up to Taylor Square. They’ve just said ‘no’.”

In a statement, NSW police said they had various “concerns” about the planned gathering.

A spokesperson said: “The NSW Police Force has received a ‘form one’ for a protest planned for Thursday (2 February) in Sydney CBD [central business district], however, despite attempted negotiations with organisers, safety concerns associated with their proposed assembly cannot be adequately mitigated without amendments to the proposal.

“As such, the commissioner will apply to the NSW Supreme Court to prohibit the assembly.”

Who was cardinal George Pell?

George Pell: Media face contempt of court trial in child sex abuse case
Homophobe George Pell was the most senior Catholic figure ever to go to jail for child sex crimes, although he was eventually acquitted on appeal. (Brendon Ratnayake/AFP/Getty)

Australian-born cardinal, George Pell, who died on 10 January 2023, was notable for his position as secretariat for the economy, in which he was responsible for the annual budget of the Holy See and the Vatican. Pell worked in the role for five years, leaving in 2019.

That same year, Pell was sentenced to six years in jail for child sex assault, solidifying himself as the most senior Catholic official world-wide to go to prison for the crime.

He was found guilty on one charge of sexually penetrating a child under 16, and on four counts of committing an indecent act on a child under 16. However, Pell was eventually acquitted on appeal, with Australia’s court of appeal overturning his conviction.

In 2020, the child sexual abuse royal commission examined the failings of Pell during his roles within the Catholic church.

The damning report exposed that Pell knew about child abuse and failed to take proper steps to act on various complaints about a torrent of dangerous priests.

The late-priest is also on the record for saying homosexuality should not be encouraged, describing it as a “health hazard”.

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