“The application in the Supreme Court today to have the Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR) planned protest on Thursday declared unlawful by NSW Police is not a genuine attempt to preserve public safety. It’s motivated by a desire to prevent the memorial service following the death of Cardinal Pell being affected by protest activity. In reality, this is a case of the NSW police trying to do tone-policing,” Josh Pallas, NSWCCL President, stated.
NSW Police cite "safety concerns which are unable to be mitigated” as the cause for their late application filed yesterday in relation to the protest, planned to take place tomorrow on 2 February. NSW Police received a Form 1 from CARR on 23 January. The protest is planning to commence at the fountain in Hyde Park and march to Taylor's Square in Surry Hills. The route would take it past St Mary's Cathedral where mourning is taking place following the death of Cardinal Pell.
"NSW Police have known about this protest for more than a week. If there were genuine concerns for safety, they could have made an application to the Court in a timely way, as has happened many times in the past. Leaving it to the eleventh hour to commence proceedings in Court doesn't make any sense if the safety concerns are genuine."
"It's completely unacceptable for NSW Police to be informing protest organisers like CARR that they are taking action in the Supreme Court against them only the day before a planned protest. 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,” Pallas said.
"The right to hold religious and other memorial services is important, but so is freedom of expression. That necessarily includes freedom to hold protests in the vicinity of funerals and memorial services. A previous well-known example is the protests at the Sydney Opera House during the memorial service for Kerry Packer. “
"This is yet another example of the way the right to public assembly in NSW is under attack by the current government. Given that NSW is about to host a huge celebration of the queer community with WorldPride coming to Sydney, it tells a sad tale to the rest of the world about queer rights and free expression in this state."