OUT Midwest’s last attempt to cancel Australian Christian Lobby’s “The Truth of it Live” Geraldton event

Headshot of Elise Van Aken
Elise Van AkenGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton's Queens Park Theatre.
Camera IconGeraldton's Queens Park Theatre. Credit: City of Greater Geraldton

Geraldton’s LGBTQI+ representative body have made a last attempt to get tonight’s Australian Christian Lobby event in the city cancelled, questioning the council over its decision to hire a local theatre to the organisation.

Labor MLC for the agricultural region Sandra Carr joined OUT Midwest representatives and supporters in the gallery at the City of Greater Geraldton’s ordinary council meeting last night, after speaking out in Parliament last week against the City’s decision to allow the hire of the Queens Park Theatre to the ACL for its “The Truth of It Live” event tonight.

RELATED NEWS

About 100 people gathered to oppose an ACL presentation at Geraldton Anglican Cathedral.
Camera IconAbout 100 people gathered to oppose an ACL presentation at Geraldton Anglican Cathedral. Credit: Lisa Favazzo/The Geraldton Guardian

OUT Midwest representative Beth Brady asked the City why an event she claimed would promote practices, formerly known as “gay conversion therapy,” was allowed to be held at the City owned Queens Park Theatre tonight.

“At a recent event in Geraldton the Australian Christian Lobby held an event that publicly promoted sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts,” she said.

“These practices have been consistently documented to cause serious harm to vulnerable individuals and communities.

“The Geraldton LBGTIQ+ community would like to ask the council why this lobbying event was not deemed unsuitable, objectionable or dangerous” as in the QPT’s hire agreement?”

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn
Camera IconCity of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn

Mayor Shane Van Styn said based on advice from another council, the City was not concerned the event would contain hateful content and would follow the State Government’s lead in allowing the event to run as it had at other venues across the State.

“The City notes an ACL event was held in Bunbury last night. Bunbury has advised City officers that there was nothing overt in the content of the ACL event that would be deemed to incite hate,” he said.

“In saying that, the content presented is different in each venue, so there’s no real way of knowing what will be said tomorrow night and as such there is no clear evidence of any presentation being against QPT hiring rules.

“It should also be noted the State Government’s minister for culture and the arts David Templeman personally intervened when the Perth Cultural Trust moved to ban the event in Albany and forced them to run the event.

“Our QPT received generous funding from the department and we also do not wish to create difficulty for the minister, and as such we will comply with the precedent he has set to allow the event to run.”

Full City of Greater Geraldton August 2022 ordinary council meeting recording (starts at 1:23:40)

Ms Brady asked if councillors had viewed ACL videos online which she believed indicated what the content of the presentation would be, to which the Mayor responded the City could not vet every single hirer at every event.

“Because no doubt most individuals or organisations have done something objectionable to someone at some point,” he said.

“We have to book the event based on the activities that are before us, and as those are yet unknown it would be unreasonable to enforce a script or otherwise on hirers.

Ms Brady claimed students from an unnamed Geraldton school had been told their attendance at the event would be mandatory, which the Mayor said was not a matter for council to comment on.

Fellow Geraldton resident Melissa Petrie asked the City why the event had been approved regardless of the council’s duty to represent the community and not to cause harm to its constituents according to the Community, Respect and Equality Agreement, and referenced the Queens Park Theatre’s hire policy’s clause to refuse hire.

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Martyn Iles at his groups The Truth of It Live event at RAC Arena on Saturday night.
Camera IconAustralian Christian Lobby managing director Martyn Iles at his groups The Truth of It Live event at RAC Arena on Saturday night. Credit: facebook/supplied

“In the past ACL events have been cancelled or de-platformed because of the content these events contain,” she said.

“This content has been proven to cause harm to LGBTQI+ communities in many peer reviewed studies.

“The way I’m seeing it, correct me if I’m wrong, the council does not feel like this event harms any members of its community.”

Mr Van Styn said the City had tried to accommodate different values and beliefs represented in the Geraldton community.

“To allow one organisation and not another on the basis of others values and beliefs could be seen to go against our broader communities values and belief,” he said.

“The City feels that the CRE initiative and the Australian Christian Lobby are completely unrelated.

“The law of the State Government always takes precedent over any policy or otherwise of a council indeed.

“Given that the minister himself, who provides funding to the community intervened on the grounds of (the Equal Opportunities Act 1984), we are not likely to go and pick a fight with the minister or indeed expose ourselves to litigation from the ACL or otherwise.”

OUT Midwest will "peacefully" protest against the event outside the QPT tonight. The group’s last protest of an ACL event in Geraldton earlier this year saw approximately 100 members and supporters gather across from Geraldton Anglican Cathedral.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails