Activists want police and correctional services to be excluded from the legendary Gay Pride Parade in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Members of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Carnival will vote at the organization’s annual general meeting on a controversial proposal to remove police and correctional services from the parade.
The vote, due to take place on Saturday, is the latest in an ongoing dispute over the political direction of the famous gay parade.
The motion was made in protest by Pride, an activist group fighting to get the event back to its roots of protest.
« The Black Lives Matter movement has instigated the global responsibility of every human being to recognize the harm and enormous human cost of living caused by the police, » Bridget Harilaou, organizer of Pride in protest, told AAP.
The motion calls for police organizations and associated organizations to be excluded from participation in all future Carnival parades.
« This is in recognition of the immense violence perpetrated by the police and correctional services against First Nations communities who are over-police and incarcerated, particularly LGBTQIA First Nations people who feel unsafe and due to The participation of the police and the penal system in the parade is excluded, « the application said.
The Mardi Gras Board informed AAP in a statement that « groups or individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer, or our allies (LGBTIQ), are participating in gay and lesbian Mardi Gras events in Sydney be excluded because of their career. Association, political affiliation or the banner they want to march under do not align with our very core value of inclusion. «
At the 2019 AGM, Pride managed in protest to elect a representative, Charlie Murphy, to the eight-member board. The group has four candidates running for election on Saturday, including Mx Harilaou.
The current board of directors rejects all motions submitted by Pride in protest at the 2020 AGM.
In late October, the group released an open letter to the board of directors asking them to reconsider the involvement of police and correctional services in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
More than 1000 people have signed the letter, including famous artists Tom Ballard, Montaigne and Brendan Maclean. Some of the signatories have played or spoken at official Mardi Gras events.
In a response posted Thursday, Mardi Gras expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement but declined to ban the police vehicles from the parade.
It has been announced that a transparent consultation will be held on the Mardi Gras Police Accord, an agreement between protest organizers and police aimed at providing a safe experience for participants.
Even if the motion to protest pride received a majority of the votes, it would not bind the board.
But Mx Harilaou said it would « reflect really badly on the organization » if it opposed a decision made by the majority of its members.
The group will make a number of other motions, including a call to officially exclude Scott Morrison and Gladys Berejiklian from the 2021 parade. They also want Mardi Gras to support the defuse of the police and the abolition of prisons.
The board of directors informed AAP that it would base its review of the applications on the goals of the organization’s statutes and strategic plan.
Deputy Commissioner Gelina Talbot, sponsor of the NSW Police Force on Sexuality, Gender Diversity and Intersex, told AAP that the troop are determined to continue participating in the parade as they have been since 1996, and this march shows their support for its LGBTIQ Employees and the wider queer community.
« We recognize our history and thus the importance of working closely with the community and participating in the carnival festival to remove obstacles to reporting crimes and to publicly and proudly express our support for the LGBTIQ community, » said the Assistant Commissioner Talbot said in a statement.
Participation in the festival also creates visibility for a liaison program between the police and the queer community that is helping police fight the crime in that community, she said.
Due to COVID-19, on 6. March the Mardi Gras Parade held at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The organization expects 5000 people to take part in the parade and 23. 000 will be watching from the stadium stands.
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