Protest outside funeral of homophobic cardinal George Pell to go ahead despite police intervention

Photo of Cardinal George Pell wearing a gret suit jacket over a black shirt as he leaves Victoria county court in Melbourne surrounded by photographers

LGBTQ+ activists in Sydney, Australia will be allowed to protest outside the funeral of homophobic cardinal and convicted sex offender George Pell, following attempts by police to block their march.

Community Action for Rainbow Rights reached an agreement with Australian police to gather outside St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney on Thursday (2 February).

The group’s planned march will end opposite the cathedral, where they will protest Pell’s requiem mass, due to the homophobic cardinal’s LGBTQ+ opposition and convictions for child abuse crimes.

NSW police sought to obtain a court order which would have stopped protestors from gathering, citing section 25 of the state’s Summary Offences Act, but have since announced it will not attempt to stop LGBTQ+ campaigners, The Guardian reports.

The new route will now start at Archibald fountain in Hyde park at 10.30am.

Speakers are set to discuss Pell’s “long track record of misogyny, homophobia and conservative bigotry”. The protest will then end with a march into the city.

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The original move by NSW has been described as “tone-policing”.

President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Josh Pallas, said: “It is a blatant misuse of the court process, by seeking to overwhelm protest organisers through the obvious disparity of legal resources, and practically limit their ability to defend the proceedings.

“In reality, this is a case of the NSW police trying to do tone-policing.”

Who was cardinal George Pell?

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 worldwide 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”.