Why did organisers allow a Right to Life stall at the Multicultural Festival?

Lachlan Roberts 25 February 2019

The National Multicultural Festival was held last weekend. File photo.

The ACT Right to Life stall at the Multicultural Festival that showed a model of foetuses in the womb at different stages of development and photos of an unborn baby’s feet is causing a stir in the local community, provoking a petition for the ACT government to ban the organisation from the event.

The petition, which was started by Jess Chalker, said the ACT Government should ban this organisation and all anti-abortion organisations from the festival.

“Every year the national multicultural festival is held in Canberra. It’s an amazing weekend of celebration. Unfortunately for the past few years, the ACT Right to Life Association has been able to have a stall,” the petition reads.

“Not only is this not a culture, but it’s also a group that actively targets women and the right to make choices for their own body.”

The petition so far has received more than 650 signatures.

A stall showing the benefits of keeping a child seems an odd fit for a festival celebrating the many cultures prevalent within the nation’s capital.

According to the 2019 terms and conditions for festival stallholders, display materials must be sensitive to the diversity of community members attending the event. The T&Cs also states that organisers have the right to remove any content they deem offensive.

ACT Right to Life Association president Bev Cains said the organisation had a stall at the festival for nearly 40 years and had paid the festival $150 to have the stall on Sunday, February 17.

“We have a stall there for educational purposes,” Mrs Cains said. “We have been a part of the Multicultural Festival since the 1980s. Before the Multicultural Festival existed, we were part of the Canberra Day Festival and we have been showing the same models of the development of a child in the womb.

Mrs Cains said the organisation would have the same stall next year and if organisers removed them from the festival, they would take them to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

“If they try to block us from the Festival, we will take them to the Tribunal because we fit all the criteria and because of our long-standing acquaintance with the public,” Mrs Cains said. “We pay the exact same $150 as everybody else has been paying the last couple of years.”

When Region Media approached the Festival organisers for an explanation and queried if organisers had deemed the stall content inoffensive, an ACT Government spokesperson said no stalls at the Multicultural Festival receive any endorsement from the government.

“These stalls ensure members of the community have the capacity to provide information on their community organisation,” the spokesperson said.

“It is important to note that there is no endorsement by the ACT Government of particular stalls or particular information presented during the Festival.

“Following the Festival each year, we listen carefully to feedback from stakeholders including festival goers, stallholders, community organisations, showcase coordinators, and ACT Government agencies. This feedback helps to shape the planning for future Festivals.”

What are your thoughts on this issue? Share them with us by commenting below.

Original Article published by Lachlan Roberts on the RiotACT.

What's Your Opinion?

10 Responses to Why did organisers allow a Right to Life stall at the Multicultural Festival?

Polly 7:53 am 31 Mar 19

The muulti cultural festival is about celebrating cultural diversity. Since when is a woman’s choice to continue a pregnancy a cultural celebration? The Right to Look Fe are an offensive group and should not be present at this cultural festival.

Paul 12:31 am 27 Feb 19

Because Sunday is community day. The multicultural festival is Friday and Saturday

Laura 6:47 am 26 Feb 19

Not a culture, but an opinion (and for many, a hateful one). Get them out.

Mary Grealy Mary Grealy 5:36 pm 25 Feb 19

Which culture did they represent? Oh, the one that tries to interfere with women’s personal reproductive/health choices!

Heather Willis Heather Willis 4:50 pm 25 Feb 19

The festival is a three day event.

Saturday is the major day of stages,performances and food. The Embassy’s also have stalls promoting their country as a travel destination and highlight a food.

Sunday has always had smaller stages and less food. All of the barlens tents are taken over by the local services letting the community know what is available.

The heading makes it sound like this stall was there on Saturday which would be inappropriate but in the context of the other organizations providing information and letting you know they exist on the Sunday - they pay their fee they get to show up.

Jill Howell Jill Howell 4:07 pm 25 Feb 19

It is a free country but what does Right to Life have to do with multiculturalism?

Lynn Nerdal Lynn Nerdal 3:19 pm 25 Feb 19

Last time I looked it was a free country, let’s keep it that way.

Anneke van Tholen Anneke van Tholen 1:10 pm 25 Feb 19

Can't imagine people queuing up to get their blurb - particularly in that setting

Judy Stewart Judy Stewart 12:56 pm 25 Feb 19

They are just stating an opinion which is their right to do so.

Just because you don’t have the same belief system does not make it offensive.