Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras asks NSW Police not to march in 2024 Parade (UPDATE)

APN Mardi Gras Parade photo by Jeffrey FengLate on Monday 26 February, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Board released a Statement regarding NSW Police marching in the 2024 Parade.

“Sydney Mardi Gras along with LGBTQIA+ communities across the country have been devastated by the loss of Jesse Baird and Luke Davies, whose lives were cut short last week.

Police have charged a man with their murder, a NSW Police officer who has previously participated in the Mardi Gras Parade.

In recent days many have voiced their concerns to us, particularly regarding feelings of unease at the Parade. Their concerns centre on whether it can still be a space to protest, celebrate, and advocate for equality, as well as to honour and grieve for those we’ve lost, given the NSW Police’s participation in this year’s event.

Our community needs space to grieve the loss of Jesse and Luke who, before this tragedy, would have been here celebrating with us at the Festival.

In light of this, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Board feels that having the NSW Police march this year could add to the distress within our communities, already deeply affected by recent events.

The Board has taken the decision to request that the Police do not march in the 2024 Parade.

This decision was not made lightly, especially considering that many NSW Police members who participate in the Parade are also members of the LGBTQIA+ community and are navigating the impact of this tragedy alongside us.

However, we believe that their participation at this year’s event could intensify the current feelings of sorrow and distress.

This decision allows space for the community to heal this year and acknowledges the profound grief and strain that we are enduring. This is an opportunity to pause and reflect.

NSW Police have been notified, and while disappointed, understand the Board’s decision and the Board are meeting with the Police to discuss further.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras have worked closely on our event operations with NSW Police over many years, building greater understanding behind the scenes to serve the broader community.

Through this, we have developed a constructive relationship that has helped us progress towards a more reconciled future between NSW Police and the LGBTQIA+ community.”

On Wednesday 28 February, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Board released an update regarding NSW Police marching in the 2024 Parade.

“The Board of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the Police Minister the Hon. Yasmin Catley MP and Police Commissioner Karen Webb came together in a constructive discussion regarding the Board’s concerns about Police participation at this year’s Parade, as well as a range of broader issues currently impacting LGBTQIA+ communities.

As a result of the discussions, and police commitment to actions, an agreement was reached that LGBTIQ+ Liaison Officers (GLLO), LGBTQIA+ officers, and their allies and supporters will participate in this year’s parade in a reduced capacity to the originally-planned NSW Police float. To address concerns from the community the GLLO participants will march in the 2024 Parade out of uniform.

This weekend’s Parade is a beacon of hope, pride, celebration and inclusivity – this outcome allows for GLLO’s who volunteer their time and service to the community to participate in the event in a considered and respectful way as we navigate this tragedy together.

The discussion also explored the Police commitment to and implementation of an external strategic LGBTQIA+ advisory panel working with the NSW Police following the recommendations of the Inquiry into LGBTQ Hate Crimes, ensuring the advancement of representation and that the Commissioner is adequately informed on issues impacting the community, including LGBTQIA+ domestic violence.

It was also recognised in the discussion that greater communication and understanding is needed between Police, NSW Government, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and the broader LGBTQIA+ community.

Police and LGBTQIA+ communities have shared a difficult history, which must inform the continued development of communication and collaboration.”

Image: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade – photo by Jeffrey Feng