Police almost outnumbered protesters at the Park Hyatt hotel in Melbourne today as marriage equality and refugee advocates gathered to take a stand against Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s opposition to gay marriage and the federal Government’s treatment of refugees.

Gillard was at the Park Hyatt to address Melbourne University’s AsiaLink conference.

Queensland MP Bob Katter’s half-brother Carl Katter addressed an estimated crowd of 200 people.

Equal Love Victoria convenor Ali Hogg — who also spoke at the rally — said she was pleased with the turnout.

“We chanted quite loudly so we think we got our voices heard loud and clear,” Hogg told the Star Observer.

“We want the federal [Australian Labor Party] ALP to follow [the recent Tasmanian motion] in supporting marriage equality.”

Gillard was said to have entered the venue from a back entrance, however, the group marched around the hotel chanting.

Hogg said the feeling in the crowd was “overwhelmingly positive”.

“There were a lot of police blocking all entrances to the Park Hyatt,” she said.

“As soon as the speeches started there were horses surrounding us, but there was no trouble.”

Hogg said Equal Love is now looking ahead to major protests at the ALP’s December national conference in Sydney on December 3.

“We met a lot of people who came up to us at the rally who said they’d already booked their flights, so we’re pretty confident people are starting to organise their way to Sydney.”

Photo: Corey Oakley

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