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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