Mardi Gras AGM votes to tear up deal with NSW Police

December 15, 2023
A speak-out outside the Mardi Gras AGM. Photo: Jesse Holly

Pride In Protest (PIP) spokesperson Luc Javier Velez told a speak-out ahead of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras annual general meeting on December 9 that it must “advocate, fight for and stand with the grassroots movements for queer and trans rights” because attacks on the queer community have been “unrelenting”.

PIP lodged several motions, along with a candidate slate, with Velez at number 1. He was elected.

The motions included Mardi Gras showing solidarity with First Nations people from Gadigal land to Gaza.

Due to police harassment of First Nations and LGBTIQ people, it called on Mardi Gras to ban the police and military from the parade.

It also called for the agreement between Mardi Gras and New South Wales Police — the “Police accords” — to be torn up. It was adopted in 2014 after police beat up Bryn Hutchinson and Jamie Jackson at the parade.

Critics of the accord argue a peer-led team of LGBTIQ parade organisers, rather than the police, could monitor safety during the parade.

The accord gives police an explicit right to conduct drug checks at Mardi Gras events and allowed Mardi Gras to help police conduct “decency checks”.

After a heated discussion, around two-thirds of Mardi Gras’ members voted to tear up the accord.

However, this does not mean it will be rescinded as the Mardi Gras board makes the final decison.

PIP also wanted Mardi Gras to show solidarity with Palestine and the international Boycott, Divest and Sanctions campaign. Discussion on that motion was gagged.

PIP successfully passed a motion for Mardi Gras to support Independent MP Alex Greenwich’s Equality Legislation Amendment (LGBTIQA+) Bill 2023 and not to invite MPs to Mardi Gras who oppose it.

A motion asking Mardi Gras to sign an open letter by PIP and Drag Queens, calling on local councils not to cancel drag story time events, also passed.

PIP called on Mardi Gras to support Gender Affirmation Leave for transgender workers and to defend queer art and performers from transphobic and queerphobic harassment. This did not pass. 

It wanted ties with American Express cut, due to its discrimination against sex workers, and to condemn Qantas for deporting asylum seekers and refugees. Neither of these motions were successful.

Velez told Green Left that the first test is how the board responds to the motions that did pass. “There’s no reasonable way an organisation can call itself ‘member-led’ if the board ignores its own democratic processes.”

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