“When Nazi’s show up, you fight like hell.”
– Queer Latinx Reverend Alba Onofrio, August 2017
At 1pm on 23 September, a Sydney-based far-right group by the name of ‘Party for Freedom’ are planning to hold an anti-marriage equality rally on Oxford Street, Darlinghurst.
[Update 15/9: the location of the rally has been changed to Green Park, Corner Victoria and Burton Streets, Darlinghurst. Green Park is located between the National Art School and St Vincent’s Hospital, and about 300m away from Oxford St travelling down either Darlinghurst Rd or Victoria St.]
While the rally should be opposed on these grounds alone, it is important to be aware that Party for Freedom are a fascist organisation with a long record of campaigning against sexual and ethnic minority groups – including refugees – and in support of reintroducing the ‘White Australia’ policy.
While Party for Freedom are often derided for their Westboro Baptist Church style crudity and dismal political stunts, including their incompetent effort at organising a ten-year commemoration of the 2005 Cronulla white nationalist riot, it is critical to note that they are growing more brazen in their willingness to display fascist, Nazi, and white nationalist symbolism. In the wake of the events in Charlottesville, Virginia last month, and the emboldening of the US far-right under Trump, it is imperative, now more than ever, to put an unequivocal check on the transnational growth of fascist (and) homophobic movements.
For readers who are unaware of the significance of the location and timing of the September 23 rally, Oxford Street is Sydney’s main gay and lesbian district and the location of the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Along with several other far-right and fascist groups, Party for Freedom’s rally seeks to take advantage of the intensification of homophobic sentiment following the decision of the Turnbull government to force a poisonous and unnecessary postal plebiscite on same sex marriage.
Party for Freedom has also recently held a rally in Newtown – another key hub for LGBTIQ communities in Sydney, as well as left-wing activism and ethnic diversity. At this rally Party for Freedom supporters displayed signs featuring the Nazi Totenkopf (‘Deathskull’, symbol of the Nazi paramilitary organisation), the white nationalist Celtic cross, and the ‘Helicopter Rides’ meme, a reference to the torture and execution techniques of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, which is a current favourite amongst US-based far-right groups.
At an anti-Islam rally in Lithgow in late July 2017, Party for Freedom displayed a banner with the phrase ‘blood and soil’, a Nazi reference that is also used by US fascist groups, and which was one of the main white nationalist rallying chants in Charlottesville last month. A more extensive background on the group can be found at Andy Fleming’s blog ‘Slackbastard‘ and the Anti Fascist Action Sydney dossiers.
The key point here is that fascists need to be opposed and disrupted when and wherever they appear. This is especially so in a climate where they are more confident in displaying their white supremacist, anti-Muslim, and queerphobic beliefs. Party for Freedom’s recent actions are an expression of a global rise in far-right and fascist politics. A powerful display of opposition towards their rally this September would go a long way towards diminishing their confidence, and building the strength of anti-fascist resistance here and around the world.