Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Board begins community consultation on police presence at future events

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Board begins community consultation on police presence at future events
Image: Mardi Gras has begun consulting its members on their views of police participation as they prepare for a "leaner" festival (AAP Image/Steven Saphore) NO ARCHIVING

by HOPE PRATT

 

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) Board has begun consultations regarding the presence and participation of NSW Police in their events as the organisation prepares for a “leaner” parade in 2025. 

On Friday June 7, the board sent an email survey to its members, requesting input on how consultation should move forward in discussing the capacity of police involvement at future events.  

The email said the board was seeking “input specifically regarding the best way for the organisation to engage meaningfully with our membership to run a consultation process on the participation of the NSW Police Force in Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras events and the relationship between our organisations”.

The organisation said it recognised “the complex and sometimes contentious history between SGLMG and the NSW Police Force” and said it was “critical to get the process right” in collecting feedback.

Historic and Present Violence

The community consultation comes after a contentious Mardi Gras season overshadowed by violence. 

In the wake of the murders of Luke Davies and Jesse Baird, allegedly by a NSW police officer, the SGLMG board rescinded the NSW Police Force’s invitation to march in the Parade. 

Later, the SGLMG board back-pedalled their decision, after reaching an agreement with the force to allow officers to march out of uniform. 

This decision was met with backlash and spurred conversations regarding the police force’s history of violence, notably their role in beating and arresting marchers at the first Mardi Gras in 1978.

Pride in Protest heavily criticised the board’s decision, calling for them to hold police accountable for their present and past violence, and for SGLMG to further discuss and debate the role police should take in future Mardi Gras. 

During a snap rally against police brutality in March of this year, just before the Mardi Gras parade, it was reported police aggressed and threatened protestors. 

“We have no confidence in the ability of the majority of the board to lead Mardi Gras, and to act as figureheads for the queer community at large,” they said at the time.

Moving Forward

The SGLMG board has since followed members’ requests to bar politicians from being promoted at Fair Day and from marching in the Parade if they do not support the Equality Bill. 

Among the survey questions were,  “Are there any special considerations regarding the participation of the NSW Police Force in SGLMG [Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras] events that should be addressed in this consultation?”

“Your insights will not only help create a safe, welcoming space and robust process for this consultation but also shape future consultations and improve our engagement with the community,” said the board.

The survey closes on Monday June 17.

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