ABC: Sydney Mardi Gras votes to keep NSW Police and Liberal Party at future parades

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has voted against excluding the NSW Police and the Liberal Party from all future parades.

Key points:

  • The Pride in Protest group says some people do not feel safe with the police and corrective services participating in the march
  • Another motion was put forward to formally disinvite the Prime Minister and NSW Premier
  • Mardi Gras organisers said excluding people based on their career, association or political affiliation did not align with their goals for inclusion

The vote was held at the organisation’s annual general meeting and the motions were put forward by the Pride in Protest group in an attempt to return the parade to its protest roots.

On Saturday afternoon, 327 members voted in support of keeping police and correctional services in the parade, with 261 voting to bar them from 2021 onwards.

Pride and Protest said it was inappropriate for police to march given the “immense violence” perpetuated towards Indigenous people, particularly those who identify as LGBTQIA+, who are “over-policed and over-incarcerated”.

“LGBTQIA+ First Nations people … do not feel safe and are excluded as a result of police and corrective service’s participation in the parade,” the motion stated.

In a statement, Mardi Gras said that excluding groups or individuals who are LGBTIQ+ based on their career, association, political affiliation does not align with their objective of inclusion.

Pride in Protest maintained no individual was being excluded and those in the police force could still march with other community floats, just not under the NSW Police or Corrective Services banners.

A motion to ban the Liberal Party from participating and formally disinvite Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also failed, 324 votes to 169.

The board said the Prime Minister and Premier were not personally invited by Mardi Gras and excluding them would not effectively achieve social justice outcomes.

A motion for the board to “stand openly in support and solidarity” with the Black Lives Matter movement, condemn the police for Indigenous deaths in custody and call on Governments to ultimately abolish police and prisons also failed (321 to 180).

Mardi Gras said the organisation had promoted a number of events and articles about the Black Lives Matter movement through 2020 and the rest of the motion “sat outside the remit” of Mardi Gras.

This is the third year Pride in Protest has unsuccessfully attempted to boot the police force from the event.

The first Sydney Mardi Gras in 1978 ended in extreme police brutality, with 53 people arrested and bashed by police.

In 2019, then-police commissioner Michael Fuller gave an official apology on behalf of the force for the actions of police on that night.

The NSW Police have marched in the parade every year since 1998.

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