keepoutThe World Congress Of Families is set to hold a regional conference on August 30 in Melbourne, Australia, except that they’re not “set” at all. Four venues have cancelled on them so far, amid outrage from the public over their anti-gay, anti-humanity positions:

The controversial World Congress of Families conservative Christian conference is in chaos only days before its scheduled start, after four Melbourne venues backed out of hosting the event.

The line-up of anti-euthanasia, anti-divorce and anti-gay speakers from around the world has drawn condemnation from civil rights groups.

“It’s a mess,” Margaret Butts, one of the organisers told Guardian Australia. “We have no venue at the moment – the police are telling us it’s a safety risk because of planned protests and demonstrations.

“We are frantic at the moment trying to organise something else, we’ve had four venue cancellations. I can’t talk to you because we are just too busy right now.”

Guardian Australia understands that despite the prominent speakers and hundreds of people expected to attend on Saturday, organisers had not planned event security or liability insurance.

The event was initially to be held at St Patrick’s parish hall in Mentone, about 20km south-east of the city. It was then moved to St Cecilia’s Catholic church in Glen Iris, but that venue also withdrew.

They forgot to get liability insurance? I have never been an event planner career-wise, but I have planned events for nonprofits and political candidates and liability is sort of one of the first things you do.

Anyhow, planned demonstrations are intended to be peaceful, with an active message of fighting back against the extremism of the WCF:

Debbie Brennan, head of the socialist feminist organisation Radical Women, said several protest groups planned to demonstrate at the conference, wherever it was to be held.

“This event is the convening of an extreme-right movement,” she said. “We see this event for what it is – that is a very sinister consolidating of the political far-right and that’s why we’ve been organising a demonstration.”

She said the demonstration would be peaceful but would aim to disrupt the 8am “welcome” to congress. “We will exercise our free speech right to make it as hard as we can for people to get into the congress. Certainly, we will be out there in force and having loud things to say.

“We want to make it very hard for the congress to recruit new people.”

She said while the congress organisers might exercise their right to free speech, protesters had the right to share their views as well.

Brennan points out that marginalized groups are already feeling the pain from “far right assaults on them.”

The draft program for the event is here, and it states that it is subject to “minor revisions.” We assume that, since they still list St. Cecilia’s as their venue, that will have to be revised in a minor way.

In response, the WCF is in damage control mode, releasing an open letter to Australia, trying to explain that they’re not terrible haters after all:

The letter on the WCF website has been written to respond to what it claims has been “unremitting and grossly misleading attacks” in the lead-up to Saturday’s conference at St Cecilia’s school hall.

“Sexual radicals have launched a smear campaign to discredit the Melbourne conference, which misrepresents the international pro-family movement and the positions of the World Congress of Families,” it reads.

The letter has been signed by 80 prominent pro-life people including the former US presidential candidate and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Several Australian politicians have been criticised for supporting the WCF’s conference, including Senior Coalition Minister Eric Abetz who defended some of the groups more spurious claims, such as discredited links between abortion and breast cancer.

Readers and journalists can decide for themselves what the World Congress Of Families is all about. TWOCARE is producing an ongoing series on the cast of characters who comprise the WCF’s coalition. So far, we have examined John Howard, the brain behind the WCF; Larry Feder, the WCF’s communications director; and we are currently working our way through one of the latest books from Janice Shaw Crouse, Executive Director at Concerned Women For America, and the WCF’s favorite anti-feminist woman.

Click here to peruse the entire series.