What you need to know about the rise of alt-right extremism in Australia.

If you've been plugged into the news, you may have seen a countless number of anti-LGBTIQIA+ protests taking place across Australia. 

Many of these protests have marketed themselves under the guise of protecting 'women and children's rights' and 'religious freedom', some associating themselves with the movement 'Christian Lives Matter'. 

But when you dig a little deeper, it's far more complex. And concerning.

Dr Kaz Ross is an independent researcher into extremism, conspiracy and the far-right. She says that in Australia, we're seeing the far-right declare themselves far more openly — and lean on extremist Christian ideologies as a shield. 

Firstly, what is 'Christian extremism?'

Over the last few years, we've seen a rise in the so-called 'freedom movement' — think anti-vax, anti-government, pro-conspiracy and so forth. Dr Kaz Ross explains to Mamamia that initially, this group was a pretty mixed bag of people. 

But recently, the movement's dominant narrative is now vigilante 'Christian' extremism.

"We've seen this rise of Christian rhetoric and talking about doing 'God's work'. This is really parallel with something we saw in America under Trump. It ties into another conspiracy, QAnon, which is a very Christian, saviour-complex, apocalyptic vision," she says.

It should be noted that critiques on Christian extremism aren't an attack on the religion of Christianity itself — rather the minority extremist ideology that has risen from it. 

The rising visibility of right-wing extremism in Australia. 

Alt-right and extremely conservative ideologies have been on the rise in the US for a long time now, evidenced by legislative changes such as changes in access to abortion and the restrictions on drag queens as well as the proliferation of conspiracies such as whether horrific school shootings actually happened, the storming of the Capitol.


Anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment has been on display more and more in Australia recently too.

According to Dr Kaz Ross, many of these far-right groups share the conspiracy belief that there is a 'cabal of pedophiles' — and that anyone who is gay or from the queer community is considered a child groomer. 

"Yelling at trans and gay people about pedophilia and child abuse when these groups are often quoting sermons from the Catholic Church — which we've seen has got an extensive history of child abuse — the irony is clearly lost," Dr Kaz says.

These ideologies were on display in Melbourne earlier this year, when members of a prominent neo-Nazi group attended a protest, performing Nazi salutes and making extremely prejudiced statements towards the LGBTQIA+ community.

Dr Kaz notes that a large number of high-profile neo-Nazis have taken up some form of Christianity — "turning to religion because it sures up your position".

 Watch: the Neo-Nazi situation in Melbourne. Post continues below.

Video via The Project.

During the height of World Pride celebrations, a group of 30 or more men decided to stage an "unauthorised" (as per NSW Police) protest along the main street of Newtown in Sydney. The Christian Lives Matter Facebook group reposted videos from the protest — appearing to either be allegedly connected to the event or allegedly endorsing it.

For context, Newtown is considered an LGBTQIA+ hub in Sydney, known for its progressive community and prolific drag show scene. Bystanders alleged the protesting group were not peacefully protesting, but instead being "disruptive", "very intense" and "intimidating".

The group was reportedly suggesting their views and rights were being persecuted. Sydney Criminal Lawyers noted that Christianity continues to be the majority religion in Australia and the Church still holds great sway in our systems.


There was also a protest in Sydney's Hyde Park where protestors held banners that read: "LGBTQ = PEDOPHILIA."

Other signs read: "Hands off our children" and "Stop this evil", calling for kids to be protected against the "moral decay of society". Very few signs called for religious freedom — rather looking to take away the freedom of others. Namely, those belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community.

Some of the protestors wore shirts that read: "Christian Lives Matter." It remains unclear if they are actually directly affiliated with the Facebook group, or are just endorsing the wider movement. 

In a counter-protest, dozens of protestors called for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people to be protected. 


Then in late March, a now-infamous attack occurred in the streets surrounding St Michael's Church in Belfield Sydney.

One Nation leader Mark Latham was there to address a church-organised meeting about his concerns that the 'trans agenda' was eroding parental rights.

In response, 15 members of the LGBTQIA+ group Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR) attended the church to protest Latham's speech. NSW Police alleged 15 "peaceful" protesters were then swarmed by a "mob" of about 500 people.

This large group of people was mostly men who agreed with Latham's position on religious freedom and parental rights. Three men were charged following the incident.


The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney condemned the violent behaviour by protestors outside, describing it as "unacceptable".


"The people who acted violently outside St Michael’s Belfield were not members of the local parish community. The Catholic Church teaches that all people should be treated with dignity and respect. For Christians and for all Australians, the events that occurred last night do not represent who we are and must be condemned," they said in a statement.

Each of these events has one major thing in common — people with extremist ideologies protesting against the rights of others and branding it as activism. 

As Former Miss Universe Australia, author and activist, Maria Thattil — who is also a member of the LGBTQIA+ community — said we need to talk about the hypocrisy that laces arguments built on punching down at minority and marginalised groups.


"Their groups know what they're doing," she wrote for 9Honey. "And none of it has anything to do with defending faith, protecting children or bettering society."

Throughout history, alt-right extremists have traditionally moved from targeting one persecuted minority group to the next — whether they are from different cultures, religions such as Jewish and Muslim people, or anyone who doesn't fit in the category of hetero-normative. 


Of course, this is not a concern with religion. 

It's a concern with people projecting extremism and hatred in the name of religion. 

Recently, more than 1,400 Christian faith leaders signed an open letter condemning "radicalised Christian nationalism".

When Mamamia contacted ASIO, they directed us to Director-General of Security Mike Burgess' recent Annual Threat Assessment, saying the current threat level has not changed.

Currently in Australia, the national terrorism threat advisory level remains at 'possible'. 

ASIO also no longer refers to the term 'right-wing extremism', and instead categorises it as 'ideologically motivated extremism' and 'religiously motivated extremism'.

The threat of terrorism and violence as a result of extremism in Australia remains present — as we saw recently when two police officers and one civilian were killed on a Queensland rural property in an ambush by three people associated with a 'Christian' extremist ideology

It's unclear whether this recent groundswell of activity will lead to the recruitment of more members for alt-right extremist groups. 

But one thing is for certain: Australia's far-right are becoming increasingly visible. As for the threat any extremist ideology poses — we're already soberly aware of the potential consequences.

Feature Image: Getty/Twitter/Mamamia.

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