Police in Australia have arrested two men after a group of around 250 people clashed with LGBT activists outside a church in Sydney.
LGBT group Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR) said several activists were "punched in the face multiple times as they were surrounded by a mob 30 times their size".
They were protesting outside an event being addressed by former Labor party leader Mark Latham. Mr Latham who is now a member of the right-wing populist One Nation party, said the event was being held to discuss "religious freedom and parental rights." He’s known for his outspoken criticism of gender diversity being taught in schools.
New South Wales Police say glass bottles and other projectiles were thrown at officers, and a 38-year-old man was pushed to the ground and assaulted.
Two men aged 34 and 41 were arrested after riot police were called in to disperse the crowd. They were charged with encouraging the commission of crimes and common assault respectively.
Mr Latham said police had advised him not to speak at the event but regarded this as "a denial of democracy". He tweeted that he was speaking about "important election issues", including "religious freedom, parental rights, school education and protecting non-Govt schools from Alphabet Activism". He said he "thoroughly condemned" the violence outside.
Although not a Christian, Latham is an outspoken advocate of traditional Christian beliefs. In a speech in 2018 he said :
“Conservative individuals and groups are now effectively an underground movement, while many ordinary Australians now worry that articulating their views could lead to them losing their jobs.
Christianity and Christians are vital in what is now a fight for the heart of civilisation.
“The importance of Christianity is absolutely essential. I’m not a Christian myself but I recognise that if we are to be serious about defending our civilisation, Christianity has never been more important, never been more essential in terms of its values and its significance.”
“Christianity has given us respect for the sanctity of life, the meaning of compassion, the meaning of community – and Jesus Christ, as an historical figure, remains the greatest moral teacher in human history.”
Mr Latham led the Australian Labor Party from 2003 – 2005 and became an outspoken political commentator. He returned to politics in 2017.