Poor turnout at Straight Lives Matter rally
THE leader of a right-wing group that held a protest in Sydney against same-sex marriage has blamed the poor turnout on a "fear of violence” from Yes campaign advocates.
Australia's first Straight Lives Matter rally was held as a protest against the potential legalisation of same-sex marriage and instead found itself vastly outnumbered by counter-protesters and police.
The Party for Freedom, one of the chief organisers of the Cronulla riots anniversary rally in 2015, held the protest on Sydney's Oxford Street on Saturday.
While only 33 people had said on the group's Facebook event page they were attending, NSW Police said fewer than 15 turned up for the Straight Lives Matter side.
Nick Folkes, the head of Party for Freedom, disputed the police count but admitted the number was "disappointing”.
"We don't have a history of our side of politics being very vocal. The left wing are very vocal. There's a big fear of violence among our supporters which I think is why we were so poorly supported today,” he said.
"We were definitely worried about left wing people attacking us. People didn't turn up because of possible violence ... There has been violence coming from the 'no' side but overall the intimidation, name calling, violence - it has all come from the 'yes' camp,” he added.
In a statement to news.com.au, NSW Police said there were "no issues at all” at the protest.
More than 50 same-sex marriage advocates stood on the opposite side of Sydney's Green Park, drowning out all of the speeches with chanting and horns.
At one point, an anti-fascist group was heard yelling "Nazis, f**k off”.
And despite the Straight Lives Matter camp's struggle to deliver their speeches, Mr Folkes said they were unfazed by the volume of the same-sex marriage advocates.
"It wasn't frustrating, it was to be expected honestly. We just turned the volume up and honestly we've grown used to it. It's just a bit of background noise,” he said.
"I like the banter, I like having a bit of counter-action there. I see it as democracy in motion, it's a positive thing,” he added.
Facebook users have since taken to the rally's event page to slam the poor turnout, with one labelling it as "sad and pathetic”.
"We did count 50+ police, however they clearly weren't needed as no one really cared to listen to your hateful messages,” Edwin Diaz wrote.
- Natalie Wolfe