Open letter calls for Victoria Police to stop marching at Pride


victoria police midsumma pride
Image: Victoria Police

More than 100 queer Victorians have signed an open letter urging Victoria Police to not march as an organisation at Midsumma this year.

Midsumma is Victoria’s long-running annual LGBTIQ arts and culture festival. It kicked off last weekend and runs into next month.

The festival’s annual Pride March is on again on Fitzroy Street in St Kilda on Sunday, February 6.

The new open letter, titled No Police At Pride, was released on Tuesday. Its signatories call for uniformed officers “to cease participating as an organisation” in the Pride March.

The letter says while everyone is welcome in a personal capacity, the signatories “call for the decentring of police.”

“We believe that all LGBTIQA+ people deserve to be safe at our Pride March,” the letter reads.

“While some people can safely interact with police, their presence makes many more people in our communities unsafe.

“Policing and police violence are everyday experiences for many people, especially Aboriginal people, Torres Strait Islander people, African Australians, people of colour, migrants, trans and gender diverse people, people living with HIV, sex workers, poor people, people with disabilities, people who use drugs, and people without a home.”

Surveys found low levels of trust in police

The letter points to ABS General Social Survey data that found only half of gay, lesbian and bisexual people feel they can trust the police.

Moreover, a 2020 Victorian Pride Lobby survey found four out of five respondents don’t trust Victoria Police to use their powers reasonably and half don’t trust officers with personal information

“Three in four respondents to a 2020 survey conducted by the Victorian Pride Lobby believed that Victoria Police should not march in uniform,” the letter reads.

“For trans and gender diverse participants the figure was higher at almost nine out of 10 people.”

The letter concludes, “Pride March should be led by and for LGBTIQA+ communities.

“We do not believe that police serve our interests by participating against community wishes.”

Victoria Police ‘strives to earn community trust and confidence’

In recent years, debate has raged about uniformed police participation in Pride events around Australia, including Midsumma, the Brisbane Pride Festival and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Speaking last year, a Victoria Police spokesperson said of police participation, “Victoria Police cherishes the opportunity to celebrate and show our support for LGBTIQ communities and our own employees at the Pride March every year.

“Participating in the event is a proud reminder that the organisation is representative of the community.

“Police take great pride in representing the organisation in a formal manner. [This] includes marching in uniform, as a sign of respect to the communities we serve.

“Victoria Police strives to earn the trust and confidence of the entire Victorian community.”

Midsumma special event to celebrate state’s milestone

This year Midsumma runs from January 23 until February 13 in Melbourne.

In a few weeks, the Victorian government and Midsumma teamed up for a huge new street party, Melbourne Pride.

The event, originally planned for last year, commemorates the 40th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

The inaugural party will take over the Gertrude Street Precinct in Melbourne’s inner north on February 13.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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1 Comment

  1. Steph
    28 January 2022
    Reply

    I do not want or believe police should have a voice in our community, visually or verbally at any LGBTI event.
    This is because when police are allowed to march unapologetically, to the community/society at large, at the events and through the use of Media coverage it gives the impression that police are safe towards our community and LGBTIQ+ individuals.
    As a Transgender Woman I can show and say police do not respect or treat myself well and this has been documented while Ethical standards do not give a response.
    Having police at events is giving a false impression that they are with us, for us or like us.
    I can say from repeated personal experience that almost all police members and as an organisation as a whole with the many I have interacted with over the years DO NOT have any respect for myself as a young fully transitioned woman who has no criminal history and no substance misuse, and towards Transgender persons.
    Transgender Females are the most hated by police and commit great atrocious actions and words. Having police at LGBTI events is triggering and I choose not to go to events because of this, as I fear all police. I am yet to meet a kind, nice or respectful officer. The local LGBTI police liaison officer is tokenistic.
    Police in no way should be seen at any LGBTI event until they acknowledge their Crimes, Abuses and Hate. If the police should want to have a presence in the marches and events then the police should say ‘SORRY’ at all marches and events to bring awareness to their past abuses and to truly show that the police Have changed and until the police stop in EVERY way and ALL types of abuses and abusing Transgender Females the Police should not even be mentioned except to highlight their abuses.
    It would be a start for the police to have publicity at the events to admit the abuses and to Honour the victims of abuses at the hands of police.
    I become fearful and relive the trauma when I see police cars, having police at marches or events takes any safe place for me grow and enjoy.
    If police are genuine and want to march they can organise their own event.
    The focus should not be so much on, should they or shouldn’t police march? let us start a conversation about their abuses to bring a change.
    And if anyone should think they should be allowed to have a presence at LGBTI events, I would say be on the receiving end of police abuse, and trust me the police have a lot of power and act with impunity.

    Allowing police to march is wiping the past and giving the police a free pass, but it also allows the police to keep abusing Transgender Persons (Females mostly) and is hiding the real actions, words and mentality of police.

    Also when the focus is just on the ‘marching’, it distracts from the real issue why they should not be seen at LGBTI events.
    I am seeing this topic mentioned much lately but for a good change it would be helpful, if, when this topic of marching is mentioned lets also mention some of the abuses by police to help those who think the police should be allowed to march to have a better Understanding of why police should not be able to attend events.
    The greater community and society needs to be educated about the abuses by police to have an understanding of what LGBTIQ+ persons and in particular Transgender Females have been and still are been subject too.
    The violence and hate by police needs to stop.
    The police needs to change by stopping the abuses by them and say ‘SORRY’ to the LGBTIQ+ community.
    Where are the open letters by support groups naming police members and the victims, denouncing the abuse and asking for it to stop? Calling for safety from police.
    Having police present while been unapologetic at Pride marches and events also enables governments to be absolved of any responsibility by empowering police to be accountable to no one, it shows to the LGBTIQ+ community that we have no voice or safe space.

    It would be nice to honour the victims of police abuse to help the individual and their family heal and be supported, while honouring the Transgender community, there is a very sad reason why the self-harm and suicide rate is so very high among Transgender Females.
    Say NO to abuse by police, It has to stop, because we are losing people every day mostly due to and contributed to by police hate, the conversation should be to support and help Transgender persons to protect them from future abuses.

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