On World Youth Day on July 19, protesters are planning to send this message to the pope: "Gay is great and homophobia is unacceptable."
The newly-formed NoToPope Coalition, advertised as a combined action against homophobia, is organising a peaceful rally at Taylor Square in Darlinghurst at noon, followed by a march to Randwick Racecourse. Its main message will be: "The pope has it wrong! Put a condom on!"
"This pope is homophobic: he condemns same-sex marriage and is condemning millions of people to death through AIDS with his anti-condom policy", Rachel Evans, a spokesperson for NoToPope, said in a press release. "There is no reason why religion has to be homophobic. Religions should embrace all of humanity's diversity."
"Pope Benedict is a bigot. By calling homosexuality a 'disorder' the pope nurtures bigotry and violence, not love", added Luke Roberts, also from the NoToPope coalition.
The pope blames contraception for the supposed "breakdown" of family life across Africa. In June 2005, addressing African bishops at the Vatican, Pope Benedict said he was greatly concerned that "the fabric of African life is threatened by divorce, abortion, prostitution, human trafficking and a contraception mentality".
The United Nations estimates that without new initiatives that give greater access to drugs, more than 80 million Africans may die from AIDS by 2025 and HIV infections could reach 90 million — or 10% of the continent's population.
When used consistently, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV transmission. Without access to anti-retroviral drugs, which many African nations have not been able to supply to their populations, people infected with HIV can die within five years of being diagnosed with the infection.
Anthony Englund, representing the Sydney Atheists, said "This coalition, which includes anti-homophobic atheists as well as Catholics, wants to constructively engage the broad faith around these issues."
"We also want to protest the fact that the NSW Iemma government should not have given $118 million of NSW taxpayers' funds to the Catholic Church — an organisation that clearly doesn't need the money — for World Youth Day. The money should instead have gone to badly needed community services", Englund said.
The NoToPope Coalition includes Atheist Sydney, Pope Alice, Resistance, the Raelians, Socialist Alliance and the well-known androgynous rights activist Norrie May Welby. The coalition will launch its World Youth Day campaign on June 30 at 10am outside St Mary's Anglican Church in Sydney.
For more information or to get involved call Ansgar on 0432
975 621, Luke on 0400 195 203, Michael on 0437 974 386 or Rachel on 0403 798 420, or visit http://www.notopope.com.