Christmas parade floats cause a stir

Issue 

BY
ALEX BAINBRIDGE

HOBART — Two floats in the November 30 Launceston Christmas parade
have sparked a string of letters in the Examiner, the town's daily
tabloid.

The Peace on Earth float was entered by a coalition of No War on Iraq,
Launceston Tasmanians for Refugees and Launceston Peace Action Network.
It was endorsed by a range of human rights, community and political groups,
and featured a lead banner which read “Peace on Earth, goodwill to all;
no war on Iraq; welcome refugees”. The float was decorated with peace flags
and a wreath-like peace symbol, and accompanied by a replica of the SIEV-X
boat.

The “diversity” float featured a giant queen puppet and participants
decked out in all the colours of the rainbow, with a range of placards,
including “Celebrate diversity: sexuality, gender, ability”, “Don’t box
me in” carried by someone in a wheelchair, “Straight but not narrow” and
“Celebrate who you are”. Participants came from a variety of organisations.

A December 5 Examiner article stated, “[p]arade director Peter
Geddes said neither float revealed they would be showing placards nor were
these displayed until the parade was under way”. The article suggested
something underhand in the entry and conduct of the floats.

A number of letters to the Examiner attacked the relevance of
the floats, and one criticised “using an inappropriate forum to display
their message before the children of northern Tasmania”.

Launceston Socialist Alliance activist Kamala Emanuel, one of the organisers
of the Peace on Earth float, told Green Left Weekly she found it
“ironic that our critics seem completely happy for the birth of Jesus to
be marked by the Myer Santa and for an abundance of angels and shepherds
and of course tinsel and holly, but that as soon as we sought to invest
the herald’s words 'Peace on Earth, goodwill to all‘ with any contemporary
meaning, we're denounced for 'desecrating' Christmas.”

“'Christmas should be for children’, wrote an Examiner columnist
on December 3. Yes, and what about the children of Iraq? And those in the
detention centres?” Emanuel asked.

From Green Left Weekly, December 11, 2002.

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