Violence broke out at a same-sex marriage rally this weekend in Brisbane, Australia, as a Christian group preached near the march.
The "Equal Love" event clashed with a small group of evangelicals, whom the marchers claimed were shouting: “Homosexuality is a sin, you will all go to hell.”
The confrontation quickly escalated into a scuffle as tempers flared. According to The Brisbane Times, Equal Love march organizer Kat Henderson said, “They were bigots. They were using a PA to say ‘You must repent now. You’re going to hell.”
The Christian group was reportedly from Operation Five Thirteen, an organization of evangelists from all denominations who state it is its mission to "see God glorified through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ."
A spokesman for Operation Five Thirteen told The Brisbane Times he was attacked by the pro-gay marriage group. A statement on the organization's website explained:
“A number of members part of Operation 513 held a peaceful outreach in Queen's Park, Brisbane sharing the gospel on Saturday 21st May.
“The outreach included preaching and also having a few signs. We started preaching well before the gay rights rally was about to begin and rather far away from it, so as not to disturb their rally. Soon after we started preaching, a large amount of people came up to us and started debating. This then led to them chanting at us and doing all they could to drown us out.”
The statement continued: “We did not preach that God hates homosexuals, but rather we said that God hates all sin, of which homosexuality is one of them. We then preached about the forgiveness that anyone can receive if they repent and trust in Jesus' death on the cross that he paid for their sin. During this time, a member of the gay rights rally stole the preacher's hat and started walking away with it.”
After allegedly attempting to grab the hat back, the group claimed: “The man started throwing punches into me. I attempted to defend myself, but did not throw any punches in retaliation.”
The Christian organization further explained that the pro-gay marriage supporters then began ripping up the group’s placards. “Quite a number of the members of the gay rights rally then all started attacking me, assaulting me and strangling me…All of this was filmed on our video cameras….On my neck I had very clear signs of injury where I had been punched and strangled.”
The statement concluded: “The gay rights rally was supposedly about achieving equal love, but it was clear that the people part of the rally did not show any sort of love to those who had a difference in opinion on gay marriage. A difference in opinion can be and should be discussed, but at no point is violence acceptable.”