Melbourne Protesters Frustrated with Pope's Attitude


July 13, 2008

About 150 protesters in Melbourne have marked the Pope's arrival in Australia with a rally against World Youth Day (WYD).

Organised by a coalition of secular groups, Youth Against World Youth Day targeted the Pope's attitude towards women, gay people, abortion, condoms and clergy sexual abuse.

Pope Benedict XVI this afternoon landed in Sydney for this week's WYD celebrations, that runs July 15-20.

Jason Ball, one of the organisers, said people wanted to vent their frustrations on what WYD represented.

"We've got people here who are frustrated it's called World Youth Day but it's not all-inclusive, it doesn't include all youth, it's organised by the Catholic church and is promoting Catholicism," Mr Ball told AAP.

"We're frustrated by the taxpayer funded nature of the event, to the tune of A$150 million."

Mr Ball said people were also angry about the NSW's so-called "annoyance" laws, which critics say place restrictions on what protesters could wear and what placards they could display.

"Seeing as they can't do it in Sydney, we want to do it in Melbourne. We want to do it constructively, peacefully, and let them know that we have a right to free speech."

Mr Ball said t-shirts such as the ones worn by protesters today, saying "Pope is wrong, put a condom on" or "Blasphemy is not a crime", were likely to be deemed annoying to Catholics under the new laws.

Many of the protesters planned to head to Sydney to take part in rallies there, he said.


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