Recently I joined over a thousand GLBTIQA+ people in signing the Pride in Protest petition. This petition asked for the removal of uniformed police and uniformed corrective service members from Mardi Gras. Motions based on the petition were put to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) AGM but were narrowly voted down.
Belle Beare explains why she signed the petition to ask for the removal of uniformed police from the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
I signed the Pride in Protest petition because I am Transgender. I also previously worked as a sex worker. In 2014, I lost an extremely close friend, Mayang Prasetyo.
I personally find uniformed police at Mardi Gras intimidating. It upsets me and triggers a poor mental health response. I have suffered harassment and discrimination at the hands of police both as a Transgender person and as a sex worker. As a consequence, I no longer attend Mardi Gras.
I hope that by sharing this opinion piece, the SGLMG Board may listen to my story and remove uniformed police and uniformed corrective service members from Mardi Gras. I also hope it will inspire other like-minded people, whether GLBTIQA+ or not, to join us in protest.
The thing that warmed my heart about the signatures on the petition is that they were from a very broad section of the GLBTIQA+ community. They included ’78ers’ who participated in the very first Mardi Gras back in 1978. During that march, police arrested and physically assaulted participants. Following the march, local newspapers printed the names of many of the marchers. Some consequently took their own lives.
Black Lives Matter
First Nation GLBTIQA+ people signed the petition in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Others signed in recognition of deaths in custody such as that of Indigenous Sistergirl Veronica Baxter back in 2009. Well-known GLBTIQA+ people like Tom Ballard and Sally Rugg also signed.
Corporates at SGLMG
It’s not necessarily just about the police. Corporates and others chasing the ‘GLBTIQA+ dollar’ also make many people feel uncomfortable and unwelcome at the SGLMG.
Both the ANZ and NAB joined forces with the federal government to establish the much-maligned ‘cashless welfare Card’. Unemployment rates are extremely high amongst Transgender and non-binary people, GLBTIQA+ first nation’s people, migrants and the disabled. Vulnerable people within our communities sometimes need access to cash-in-hand to escape family and domestic violence. Many of those people fear persecution from the police at the very time they need help because of threats to their safety.
Liberal National Party moderates (who supported marriage equality in 2017) remain silent when members of their own political parties attack Transgender and non-binary people for political achievement and advancement. QANTAS continues to deport GLBTIQA+ asylum seekers. The AFL and AFLW promote themselves as ‘inclusive’ while enforcing excessive barriers on Transgender footballers.
This list sadly goes on.
Pride in Protest wants a welcoming, inclusive SGLMG
I and many others who signed the petition do not want police and corrective service members ‘banned’ from Mardi Gras. We would just prefer it if they did not participate in uniformed clothing and especially not under a corporate banner or on representative floats.
People like myself feel unwanted and unwelcome due to what the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has become.
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