2015 Mardi Gras set to GLLO with police pride

NSW PoliceNSW Police Force’s specialist Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers (GLLOs) will celebrate a special milestone at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade next year. Officers will mark the 25th anniversary of the GLLO program with a special tribute-entry in the Parade on Saturday 7 March 2015.

Since 1990, GLLOs have been expertly trained in subject matter and topical issues relevant to policing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities and provide specialised follow-up support for victims of crime within the community.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Stuart Ayres, said the first group of GLLOs were trained in 1990, as part of a whole-of-government initiative to address violence against members of the LGBTI community.

“The NSW Police’s GLLO program is the first of its kind in Australian law enforcement history and revolutionised the management of crime associated with the LGBTI community,” Minister Ayres said.

Earlier in 2014, the NSW Government signed the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival Accord, an agreement between Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and NSW Police, aimed to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for the entire community.

“The NSW Government is committed to ensuring the Mardi Gras remains one of the best festivals in the world,” Minister Ayres said. “Safety is always the number one priority for police and Mardi Gras organisers. They have always worked closely to provide a safe environment, and the Accord simply ensures the best outcomes for the community and the success of the Festival,” Minister Ayres said.

Key measures outlined in the Accord include co-developing the event plan, conducting risk assessments to ensure appropriate levels of policing and event support, representation at police briefings for accurate Festival information and an assurance of fair and equitable enforcement, particularly around alcohol and drug use.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO, Michael Rolik, said the Accord was entered into following policing issues and significant concerns during the 2013 Festival.

“We entered into the Accord to ensure greater cooperation, communication and transparency between Mardi Gras and NSW Police,” Mr Rolik said. “The Accord aims to not only ensure a safer festival but to ensure that police operations are in line with the scale and nature of Mardi Gras events and that our diverse audiences are treated with dignity and respect.

“The Accord is clearly working as all key measures were met, including no complaints about police behaviour at the 2014 Festival.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Co-Chair, Paul Savage, added: “Along with Fair Play, an initiative of the Inner City Legal Centre, ACON and Mardi Gras that provides support services and helps event-goers understand their legal rights, the Mardi Gras Accord is an effective measure to deliver a safer, fairer and more enjoyable Mardi Gras for everyone.

“We look forward to working with NSW Police and our community partners over the coming months as we gear up for Mardi Gras ’15,” Mr Savage said.

NSW Police Corporate Sponsor for Sexuality and Gender Diversity, Detective Superintendent Tony Crandell, said police are continuing to strengthen the relationship with the LGBTI community, through mutual respect and understanding.

“We have come a long way since 1990 and, from a police perspective, we owe so much of that to the hard work of our GLLOs,” Det Supt Crandell said.

“They have been building strong relationships within their local LGBTI communities and, through collective consultation, have helped the organisation develop policies that are appropriate, effective and relevant. In addition, they provide guidance, advice and awareness training to fellow officers to ensure everyone consistently provides high levels of customer service, as expected within the community.

“We are committed to the continuous improvement of our relationship with sexuality and gender diverse communities and providing responsive customer service to reduce violence and fear of violence, crime and harassment based on gender or sexuality,” Det Supt Crandell said.

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival will run from Friday 20 February to Sunday 8 March 2015. For more information, visit www.mardigras.org.au.

For more information about NSW Police and managing LGBTI community issues can be found at: www.police.nsw.gov.au/community_issues/gay,_lesbian_and_transgender_issues or keep up-to-date by liking the NSW Police LGBTI Facebook page: www.facebook.com/policeglbti.

Image: courtesy of NSW Police