Months of lockdown and corona restrictions have driven all sorts of people to the streets, among them, coronavirus deniers and conspiracy theorists. In Austria, members of a homophobic cult called QAnon have taken control of some of the demonstrations.
At a September 5 protest in front of the Karlskirche in Vienna, the right-wing activists shocked the public, when a group of three individuals, standing on a stage, ripped apart a rainbow flag, with a double heart, in front of a cheering crowd. Directly after the incident, a woman identified as Jennifer Klauninger shouted into a microphone.
“You are not part of our society,” she called out, referring to members of the LGBTIQ+ community. “We have to protect our children from child molesters. We are all responsible.”
Klauninger is a far-right activist and organizer of the Austrian anti-corona protests, inspired by the German Querdenken 711 movement. Former Carinthian regional parliamentarian Martine Rutte (SPÖ) has also been identified.
The choice of prop was not a coincidence: The rainbow flag is a universal symbol for acceptance and tolerance frequently associated with the LGBTIQ+ community, a banner of solidarity at Pride marches in Vienna and elsewhere. The double heart printed on the flag, also known as the “Heart in Heart” symbol, carries a contradictory message and refers to pedophiles. The act has been interpreted as an attack on homosexuals because they are said to be pedophiles who prey on children.
“The six colors [of the rainbow flag] can be clearly assigned to the LGBTIQ movement,” Ann-Sophie Otte, chair of the Homosexual Initiative Vienna, toldORF.“Equating the LGBTIQ movement with pedophilia is an old and unfounded assumption by our political opponents.”
As reported by Der Standard, far-right extremist groups believe that pedophilic politicians and celebrities torture and abuse children and drink their blood to acquire “adrenochrome,” which is believed to be an “elixir of life.” Adrenochrome is a chemical compound that can be synthesized in a laboratory, but it is neither hallucinogenic nor rejuvenating, but made the rounds of counter culture thinking following the publication of Hunter Thompson’s 1971 cult classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Illegal Slogans and Conspiracy Theories
This narrative, which is also an old anti-Semitic motif, is popular among members of the “QAnon-Movement,” according to observers. Mostly active on online platforms like Facebook or Telegram, the group believes in a series of conspiracy theories, including the “deep state,” in which celebrities, leftists, and billionaires are believed to control the world. According to Der Standard, the movement has a few thousand members in Austria, identifiable at protests in t-shirts printed with the letter “Q” or the phrase “WWG1WGA” (“Where we go one, we go all”). The Austrian Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism has the cult under observations for “investigative reasons.”
The police have confirmed the extremists attendance at the protests, some of whom carried Reichsflagge (far-right imperial flags) with Nazi slogans like “Heimatschutz statt Mundschutz” (“Homeland protection instead of mask protection”). The authorities are currently investigating the incident.
Politicians have spoken out widely denouncing the homophobic action, and the Greens organized a solidarity demonstration, attracting 1,000 people under the motto “hate has no place.”
“Hatred towards LGBTIQ people must be fought with every means of democracy, so it does not become the creeping poison of our society,” saidEwa Ernst-Dziedzic (The Greens). She is calling for an “unequivocal clarification from the group responsible for the rally, including an explanation of how it came about.”
Those responsible should “apologize to the LGBTIQ+ community,” she said.