Police banned from Sydney Mardi Gras after gay couple murder case

Police banned from Sydney Mardi Gras after gay couple murder case
Police banned from Sydney Mardi Gras after gay couple murder case
EPA

A decision to uninvite police from Sydney’s iconic Mardi Gras parade this weekend has divided Australians.

Organisers said the call was made to give the LGBTQ+ community “space to grieve”, after a New South Wales Police officer was charged with murdering a gay couple last week.

Once a flashpoint of police violence against gay activists, the march has long been seen as a unifying event.

NSW Police said it was “disappointed” by the outcome.

The force’s involvement in the parade has been called into question after senior constable Beaumont Lamarre-Condon allegedly killed Jesse Baird – who he had previously dated – and his partner Luke Davies last Monday.

The parade’s board said the decision to exclude police, who have taken part in the annual march for over two decades, was “not taken lightly” but that it was essential to create a safe environment “to protest, celebrate” and “honour and grieve those we’ve lost”.

Sydney’s Mardi Gras parade has a complex history of both LGBTQ+ activism and police brutality, after the first march in 1978 resulted in dozens of people being beaten and arrested by local officers.

Now seen as a historic act of defiance, the events that day paved the way for Australia’s modern LGBTQ+ rights movement, as well as reforms to homophobic laws and police practices.

  • How Sydney’s violent first Mardi Gras spurred change

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said she was meeting with the parade board on Tuesday to talk about how the decision – which has sparked fierce online debate – could “adversely affect police, particularly members of the gay and lesbian community”.

On Monday, she said it would be a “travesty” to see police excluded from this weekend’s event, describing Mr Lamarre-Condon’s alleged crime as one of “passion” not “gay hate-related”.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that while the relationship between Sydney’s LGBTQ+ community and police had come a long way since 1978, he understood that people were “grieving what is an enormous tragedy”.

Alex Greenwich, one of state’s only openly gay MPs, called on the board to reverse its decision. He told Nine News that police needed to improve community trust “but I think that starts with working together, not excluding the police from Mardi Gras”.

But Pride in Protest – an activist group which has long campaigned for the removal of NSW police from the event – described the decision as a win for the LGBTQ+ community.

“The relationship between police and the community is at complete rock bottom and there is no confidence and trust in them,” spokeswoman Charlie Murphy told Australian Associated Press.

Related Topics

  • LGBT
  • Australia

Source: bbc.com

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