Pride in Protest want police banned from Melbourne’s Midsumma Pride March


midsumma pride march victoria police pride in protest police ban victorian pride lobby
Photos: YouTube/Pride in Protest

Hundreds have signed an open letter from activist group Pride in Protest calling on Melbourne’s Midsumma to ban police officers and correctional officers from the city’s annual Pride March.

The Midsumma Pride March 2021 kicks off this Sunday morning in St Kilda (May 23), as part of the annual LGBTIQ festival in Victoria.

A contingent of Victoria Police officers will march in a parade grouping that also includes emergency, fire and ambulance services and surf lifesavers.

However hundreds of individuals and community groups have signed the new letter from Sydney-based activist group Pride in Protest.

“Police pose a risk to the safety of many LGBTQIA+ community members, particularly First Nations people, people of colour, poor people, sex workers, people with disability and trans and gender diverse people,” the letter reads.

“Black people are disproportionately policed, subject to violence and overincarcerated, leading to the crisis of Black deaths in custody in Australia.

“To expect people who have survived police violence to march with their oppressors, denies their right to justice and safety at Melbourne Pride.

“Inviting police to march actively excludes the most vulnerable in the LGBTQIA+ community.”

The group characterises police participation in the march as “more to do with exploiting our community for good PR than any change to the systemic racism, queerphobia and transphobia embedded in the criminal legal system.”

“We must publicly speak out against the violence of policing and stand in solidarity with family members and communities harmed by police brutality and deaths in custody,” it reads.

“We must actively ban police from our events and prioritise the physical and emotional safety of minority communities impacted by the prison-industrial complex.”

Victoria Police liaison and LGBTIQ officers march in Midsumma Pride March

In an FAQ section of the Midsumma website, organisers previously explained Victoria Police’s presence at the march.

“Victoria Police have an official presence at Midsumma Pride March, and a contingent in the march,” they wrote.

“The GLLO (Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers) and Vic Police march group, for Victoria Police employees who identify as LGBTAIQ+ and their allies.

“As with all Victoria’s large-scale events, organised protests and parades, police officers are present as part of the event permit, and to deal with external threats of terrorism, or any situation that may become unsafe for event attendees.”

Victorian Pride Lobby backs Pride in Protest’s call for police ban

The Victorian Pride Lobby have also signed Pride in Protest’s open letter.

The Pride Lobby has backed a ban on “police officers and corrections officers from marching at Pride in uniform.”

Co-convener Nevena Spirovska said “protest is the backbone” of the LGBTIQ community and said Midsumma should listen.

“The LGBTIQA+ community has a fraught history with the police and this is especially so for the most marginalised among us,” Spirovska said.

“That’s why the Victorian Pride Lobby does not support police officers and corrections officers marching at Pride in uniform.

“We heard from over 1,500 community members last year in our Police Attitudes Survey and the overwhelming majority of people held this view.

“It is important to note that no individual, no matter their occupation or background, is being excluded from participating in Pride March and that people have the opportunity to join other community floats that are involved.

“Central to Pride March is the celebration of inclusivity of all members of the LGBTIQA+ community and their allies.

She said the Pride Lobby is open to working with Midsumma to make Pride “a safe and inclusive space for all.”

Victoria Police respond to calls for Pride March ban

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said the force acknowledged concerns around police participating in the annual Pride March in uniform.

“Victoria Police cherishes the opportunity to celebrate and show our support for LGBTIQ communities and our own LGBTIQ employees at Pride March every year and for the past 19 years,” she said.

“Participating in this inclusive event is a proud reminder that Victoria Police is representative of the community we serve.

“It also represents an opportunity for police to publicly show our commitment to rectifying wrongdoings of the past.

“We are committed to further improving and remain steadfast in our commitment to building strong relationships with LGBTIQ communities – relationships built on respect, trust and fairness.

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

“Our network of more than 400 LGBTIQ Liaison Officers work tirelessly to enhance the mutual trust and respect between LGBTIQ communities and police.”

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5 Comments

  1. Mike
    21 May 2021
    Reply

    This protest is so sad. Police and corrective officers have a job to do and how dare people want to exclude those in these service who want to stand and March to protect all in our community. Absolutely gutted. This is not the way to move forward. Education is the key and to exclude those police and any other people who want to stand up for the safety of all goes against human rights!!! So terribly upset by this news.

  2. Peter Turner
    22 May 2021
    Reply

    I agree totally. Police and Corrections officers must be allowed to march. For their own LGBTQI+ members this is an opportunity to show the community that they are present and supported by their respective organisations. They have acknowledged past wrongs and apologized which is a totally separate issue. Pride in protest would have us return to the marches being protest marches. I do NOT support their position. If they wish to mount a protest march it should be conducted on a different day. Their attempts to thwart the Sydney Mardi Gras were pathetic.

  3. Helen M
    22 May 2021
    Reply

    Pride in Protest is trying to take Pride marches back 30 years. The LGBT+ community reflects on the origins of the pride March but celebrate how far the community has come. It is a celebration of acceptance. The police have been marching for 19 years without issue. And we’re openly accepted into the march. Like ALL LGBTQ+ they have the right to march in their uniforms like everyone else who chooses to. Pride in Protest should leave Pride March alone and creat their own day.

  4. Rebecca
    23 May 2021
    Reply

    For a group which is about love and accepting everyone .. to discriminate and vilify police who serve everyone’s community for safety and support is not acceptable. Other public servants can march.. so should the police. Let’s not forget there are LGBTQ+ members within the police force.

  5. Luci
    23 May 2021
    Reply

    You people obviously haven’t been victims of police violence like me you try getting punched in the back with two broken vertebrae buy a maie office, you try getting dragged into a car and threatened with being murdered, you try being harassed for years on end having your bag searched been made to stand against the wall with your palms on the wall for a pat down hundreds of times for no reason other than the fact that you look unusual, you try hearing dozens of stories of your trans and queer friends being targeted at protests for underwear searches with police hands and stories of people telling you how they’ve been beaten up by the police and then you would understand why me and others feel unsafe in their presence. Other people have a different experiences from you other people don’t have the privilege of safety like you

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