Sydney put on a great welcome for World Youth Day and the City of Sydney did its bit to facilitate a lot of the practical requirements so the event ran smoothly.

However, the State and Federal government funding of $160m and almost $3m from the City of Sydney meant the Catholic Church, a very wealthy organisation, was given favoured treatment.

I do not agree that public funding on this scale should be provided to a private, non-inclusive, religious organisation. The Greens and several other groups in our diverse Sydney community who also took umbrage over some of what the Pope and the Catholic Church stand for or don’t stand for and a number of our members participated in the NoToPope peaceful protest.

I have been a coordinator with the Mardi Gras Parade for many years, committee member of the Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby for a time and member of LGBTI (Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Intersex) Committee NSW Greens and worked with CAAH (Coalition Action Against Homophobia). One thing I have learnt through my time with various organisations is that we can’t move mountains from our armchairs. We need to get on to the streets, ask a few like-minded friends to shout it’s not right, it has to change, its unjust! Drop the remote control and join in.

I attended one such protest recently, not entirely sure what 500,000 pilgrims would look like or be like. I spent so much time building an impression of what these people would look like in my mind -” they must be scary, horrid, or ugly.

The first wave of pilgrims came by. My first impressions were quite underwhelming -” they looked much like us, they were smiling and very proud of their day marching up the street. As proud as we were marching for 30 years up Oxford St protesting discriminatory laws and heavy-handed police action.

There were 200,000 pilgrims marching on our hallowed ground, where in the 30th Mardi Gras parade only 10,000 participants marched. The number of pilgrims was phenomenal!

World Youth Day, to me was a bunch of people invading my city, costing my city/state tens of millions of dollars, blocking streets, celebrating at great cost to me and to the city. I think Rachel Evans, convenor of the NoToPope Coalition did a fantastic job of organising a major protest telling the hundreds of thousands of people invading my city, that we don’t agree with state-branded religion, we don’t agree with the City of Sydney and the NSW Government inviting a Pope who thinks of me as an intrinsic moral evil.

Telling an entire population of a developing nation suffering under massive HIV/AIDS infection it’s a sin to wear a condom to me is the most ridiculous, idiotic nonsense ever thought of in modern times.
I could cry at the number of homeless people $160 million could have fed. Just to put the $160 million into perspective, Oz Harvest, an Australian charity that deliver meals to the homeless, delivered 903,032 meals in 2007. They noted their income as $784,880. If the $160 million had been given to Oz Harvest they could have provided 139,065,725 meals to the homeless and the less fortunate. That equals seven meals for every Australian!

And then there was this comment from Pope Benedict: Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.

I don’t think anyone in Sydney has come up to me and said to me I am a moral evil. They may have called me a few other things. It such a horrible thing for young gay, lesbian, bi, trans people to hear from someone who is a spiritual ruler.

I don’t remember Pope John Paul saying such horrid things when he was alive. I know millions of us are not intrinsically evil, but I do know that allowing our African brothers and sisters to die unnecessarily in the world, and you can quote me, is completely evil and it has to stop.

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