A controversial push for Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to ban the Liberal party and NSW Police from marching in the annual parade was defeated at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting at the weekend.
Ahead of the AGM on Saturday, the Pride in Protest group said they wanted “to bring back the proud protest roots of Mardi Gras and fight against systems and structures that maintain injustice.”
The group said some organisations currently marching, including the “violent” NSW and Federal Police and the “homophobic” Liberal Party, don’t belong in the parade.
The group’s motions – which would have also called for sponsorship with companies including ANZ and QANTAS be reviewed – divided Mardi Gras members but were ultimately all defeated at the AGM.
Pride in Protest candidate Holly Brooke told Fairfax Media ahead of the AGM that Coalition policies, including last year’s same-sex marriage postal survey, had harmed the LGBTIQ community.
“A Liberal float in Mardi Gras sends the message that this organisation can actively fight against our rights but can capitalise on our community spirit when it’s useful for them,” she said.
“Mardi Gras has never stopped being political: its politics have simply changed and become more conservative, and less about liberation and equality.
“We want to bring a different kind of politics that actively supports struggles, campaigns and movements against injustice.”
The group also pushed for membership fees to the Mardi Gras organisation be abolished so all LGBTIQ people can join the organisation.
But a letter signed by 70 members of Mardi Gras that was circulated a week ahead of the AGM said the Pride in Protest motions will “undermine the organisation and send it bankrupt”.
“We are writing to you because of this threat and to ask you to take action to prevent our beloved and iconic Mardi Gras being hijacked by a group that wants to use the organisation to advance their own political agenda and not for the good of the LGBTQI community,” the letter said.
“Not everyone likes political parties marching in the parade, in this instance the Liberal party, but these are members of our community and who are we to discriminate against others?”
‘Not being included would damage Mardi Gras’
Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman told ABC News he was extremely disappointed by the Pride in Protest group’s proposal.
“Mardi Gras should represent the diversity of the community, and that includes Liberals who have fought for our rights,” he said.
“Not being included would damage Mardi Gras as it wouldn’t reflect community, as a result of a push from a radical section of the community.”
A Mardi Gras spokesperson told the ABC on Friday they opposed the motions, saying they “deny the right to members of our community to express themselves and share their views” and go against the event’s “intrinsic values of equity and inclusion”.
(Photo by Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras)