Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has denied two Pride in Protest members were stood down from the Mardi Gras board over the activist group’s protest march.
Alex Bouchet (pictured above) and Charlie Murphy are both members of activist group Pride in Protest and Mardi Gras board directors.
On the day of the relocated official Mardi Gras parade at the SCG on March 6, Pride in Protest held a political protest march along Oxford Street.
In a March 4 meeting of the Mardi Gras board, the other board members temporarily stood down Murphy and Bouchet as board directors.
Pride In Protest have alleged the pair were suspended as “punishment” for their role in organising the Oxford Street march.
However, Mardi Gras co-chairs have denied the protest march was behind the decision.
Murphy and Bouchet claimed the Mardi Gras board informed them they had a conflict of interest. That conflict involved demanding Pride in Protest remove “Mardi Gras” from their event’s name, due to copyright infringement.
Murphy and Bouchet argue that was a “cover to suppress the community’s desire for protest” and the decision is politically-motivated.
They claimed the five other Mardi Gras board members voted to remove them without notice. This violates the board’s constitution, the pair said.
“Charlie and Alex had no notice, or right of reply before this decision was made,” Pride in Protest said.
“By choosing to punish Charlie and Alex for their participation in this march, they are punishing them for supporting the liberation of oppressed groups and fighting for the right to protest.”
Mardi Gras denies two board members stood down over protest march
Mardi Gras co-chairs Jesse Matheson and Mel Schwerdt confirmed Charlie Murphy and Alex Bouchet were temporarily stood down for 28 days.
“This followed months of discussions with both Charlie Murphy and Alex Bouchet,” they said in a statement.
“Reports they were stood down because of the Mardi Gras protest march are inaccurate.
“The Board will meet shortly to discuss its next steps and will provide an update at the appropriate time.
“For now, the Board wishes to continue to manage this situation confidentially, respecting the privacy for all those involved.
“The Board will continue to work constructively with Charlie Murphy and Alex Bouchet.
“[We will also] offer and provide them support during this time.
“While we understand this has caused some concern in the community, please know that as a Board, we will always act in the best interests of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and continue to steer the organisation in the direction that you set for us.”
Pride in Protest march went ahead with COVID-19 exemption
Pride in Protest organised the Oxford Street protest march the same day as the official Mardi Gras parade. The parade moved to the SCG this year due to COVID-19.
NSW Police attempted to shut down the march due to the expected crowd sizes violating COVID-19 restrictions.
At the last minute, Pride in Protest applied for, and were granted, a NSW Health exemption permitting the march.
The group marched against One Nation MP Mark Latham’s transphobic NSW legislation as well as the federal Religious Discrimination Bill.
As well as LGBTIQ rights, the group also support decriminalisation of sex work, legalisation of drug use refugee rights and oppose “over-policing” of Black communities and Indigenous deaths in custody.
Since 2018, Pride in Protest have called for a return to Mardi Gras’ roots as a political protest “fighting systems and structures maintaining injustice.”
The group have also put forward contentious proposals to ban police from marching in the parade.
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