Belle Beare on why she signed the Pride in Protest petition


pride in protest sglmg sydney gay and lesbian
Belle Beare

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.

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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.

Intimidating

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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3 Comments

  1. Bill Rutkin
    22 February 2021
    Reply

    Sometimes I wonder whether we are becoming a tad to precious. Really you go to the shops, you walk past banks, you see police walking around. etc etc etc. If the Mardi Gras is a welcoming celebration of all members of the community then it must include everyone regardless of their employment. I also believe that if the big corporates (or their staff) are prepared to sponsor and invest in our art festivals & events then we should take their money. We probably couldn’t do it on any decent scale without them frankly.

    bill r

  2. Dan
    23 February 2021
    Reply

    In my opinion we have lost the meaning of Mardi Gras.
    We have gone from anti establishment & grass roots protest & turned into pro establishment & a commercial festival.
    We have been highjacked & have sold our soul & don’t seem to be aware of it

    There is still so much to protest about.
    The parade was to demonstrate that we won’t be silenced & now the corporate dollar has silenced us
    The love in was to share love & support to members of within our own community.
    We don’t need to be loved by the government, the police or the corporate world.

    We just want to be free of violence, have equal rights & equal protection under the law & we don’t have that yet

    Our community is so diverse & while members of OUR community are suffering & not getting a fair go we need to protest, get political & make some noise

    The party at the end of the March is to celebrate our hard work but we must do the hard work first

    If you haven’t read comments on news websites lately you would have missed the rise in far right activist & they are mobilising & they have us in their sights
    Evidence of this is in the article in this issue about “Christian lives matter” drowning out a gay concert
    This is Fred nikes all over again

    We can’t be asleep at the wheel we need to mobilise & start to March & protest!

  3. Kyle
    4 March 2021
    Reply

    I love the following statement in the final paragraph of the opinion piece: “Pride in Protest wants a welcoming, inclusive SGLMG”. Unless of course you are a member of the police force, a correctional service officer, work at the ANZ, fly for Qantas, an AFL or AFLW member of player, intending on watching And supporting Ru Paul’s Drag Race Down Under, a liberal voter, a labor voter, or even work for Koala (they sell mattresses). So TOTALLY inclusive except for the scum listed above. You get VIP membership if you’re a radical Socialist who loves a good protest March (whether you know what you’re protesting about or not). So welcoming. So inclusive.

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