Sydney Mardi Gras CEO joins call for ceasefire in Gaza


Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Gil Beckwith speaks into a microphone
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Gil Beckwith has penned an open letter calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Photo: Jaimi Joy

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Gil Beckwith has penned an open letter to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, adding her organisation’s voice to those who are calling for an “an immediate and enduring ceasefire in Gaza.”

“Sydney Mardi Gras was born in 1978 by a brave group of activists that, at their core, were driven by the mission that every person should be treated equally and that we all have the right to live freely and safely,” the open letter by Gil Beckwith reads.

“These same convictions still drive … Mardi Gras today. We believe that all life is precious, and every person has the right to live without fear – regardless of sexuality, nationality, gender, belief or location.

“Our Festival each year is not simply a moment of celebration, it’s a call for greater love and understanding and is designed to create safe space for everyone.

“In this belief we join, alongside global LGBTQIA+ communities, in supporting the international call for an immediate ceasefire, the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the immediate release of all hostages in the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza. 

“We urge that the Australian government intervene and call for the Israeli forces to make every effort to protect the lives of civilians.

“Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras stands in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ people everywhere, and we are deeply concerned for the wellbeing of the Palestinian and Israeli LGBTQIA+ communities, and for their families and loved ones.

“We are also concerned at the divisions this conflict is causing here in Australia, with an increase in both Islamophobia and Antisemitism reported.

“We support actions that promote peace, and the preservation of human life. We support the Australian Government’s call for an immediate and enduring ceasefire. We strongly encourage the Government to use their influence to ensure respect for international humanitarian law.

“LGBTQIA+ communities understand that the fight for equality can never rest. If we do not act for equality, safety and fairness we risk our society becoming more unsafe, here and in Palestine and Israel. Fundamentally, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras believes in our shared humanity, and our collective right to live free from persecution.”

The news comes as Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu continues to make statements that suggest his government is abandoning a two-state solution and as Australia has declined a general request for nations to send warships into the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to deter Houthi rebel attacks on merchant vessels that are heading for Israel.

Gill Beckwith’s letter was welcomed by the activist group Pride in Protest that has been seeking to politicise Mardi Gras board elections since 2020.

The group moved a motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and endorsing the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel during the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ AGM on December 7 but debate on this was blocked by a procedural motion.

Pride in Protest characterised this as Mardi Gras “endors[ing] genocide” while live tweeting the AGM.

When the vote was subsequently held on the Pride in Protest motion about a third of the members supported it.

Statement on the Sydney Mardi Gras website state that the organisation’s existing Ethical Charter process meant that Mardi Gras could not knowingly accept funding or donations from organisations connected to war, genocide or violence. 

“We are committed to not accepting any funding from organisations which are complicit in the ongoing violence in Palestine,” the most recent of these statements reiterates.

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Andrew M Potts

Andrew has been covering LGBTQIA+ issues for a range of publications in Australia over two decades and was the Asia-Pacific correspondent for global LGBTQIA+ news website Gay Star News.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

4 Comments

  1. Grant Jarrett
    22 December 2023
    Reply

    What a stupid thing to do. This letter shows an extreme ignorance of the reality – it doesn’t even mention Hamas and the appalling act that it broke the cease fire and committed horrendous atrocities. The Sydney Mardi Gras does not speak for all gay people on matters such as these. As a one time gay activist for gay rights I’m embarrassed and appalled at this action. Shame!

  2. Alex Segal
    25 December 2023
    Reply

    The letter’s failure to mention Hamas is quite disgraceful.

  3. Owen
    4 January 2024
    Reply

    A disgraceful act by Mardi Gras.

  4. Nicky Stein
    4 January 2024
    Reply

    Your statement says you stand for safety of all but you have isolated the Jewish community from their safe space.
    It is laughable that you say Netanyahu is abandoning a two state solution when the protests worldwide call for “From the River to the Sea” a direct quote from Hamas’ charter which calls for the total destruction of Israel and the Jews worldwide. Furthermore, Hamas has openly said they plan on repeating October 7th again and again until they have obliterated Israel so it is Hamas and not Israel, together with all the worldwide protests , which are threatening a two state solution. Calling for a ceasefire now is not only nonsensical because Hamas cannot be held to this but also leaves in place a genocidal regime so a two state solution would be impossible.
    Perhaps you would like to see the video that I have seen sent by a member of Hamas on October 7th to a gay man’s entire contacts in his phone where they cut off his penis whilst he was still alive, shoved it in his mouth and then shot him in the head. This is who you are looking to support.
    Perhaps you should look at the Fatwah Council statement of 9 March 2023 and see what has been said about Hamas and the oppression of their own people.
    Your overly simplistic (and upside down) view of oppressor/oppressed is shameful.

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