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News, Victoria

Activists ask police not to march at Pride in Melbourne

More than 100 community members have come together to renew their call for police not to march in uniform at next weekend’s Midsumma Pride March in Melbourne.

No Police at Pride is group of LGBTIQA+ people including activists, academics, performers, writers, and other professionals.

They released an open letter this week asking police to leave their uniforms at home and not march as an organisation.

“We believe that all LGBTIQA+ people deserve to be safe at our Pride March,” the letter reads. 

“While some people can safely interact with police, their presence makes many more people in our communities unsafe.”

The group highlighted the police violence still experienced by groups including racial and gender minorities, poor and homeless people, people who use drugs, sex workers, people with disabilities, and people living with HIV.

Recent research has shown that most LGBTIQA+ people feel disrespected and unsafe around Victoria Police.

Two thirds of those surveyed last year believed that LGBTIQA+ communities were treated unfairly by police, and 4 in 5 did not feel safe with a large police presence at community events.

Organiser Frank Gafa said that No Police at Pride had been formed in response to the findings of the Victorian Pride Lobby survey.

“Everyone is welcome at Pride in a personal capacity, but police participation excludes the most vulnerable in our communities,” Gafa told Pink Advocate

“We deserve to feel safe at our own events and so we’re calling on Victoria Police to cease participating in Pride.”

Fellow organiser Joshua Badge said that the “historical baggage” between police and the LGBTIQA+ community was far from over.

“For example, a 2019 report from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission exposed an entrenched culture of everyday homophobia in Victoria Police,” said Badge.

“When the police raided queer bookstore Hares & Hyenas, the head of the Police Union, Wayne Gatt, said he was ‘proud’ of the officers, and Police Minister Lisa Neville thanked them for their work.

“In 2020, police officers illegally leaked photos of Dani Laidley. 

“Then in 2021, officers shared further non-consensual pictures of her with transphobic comments.

“Victoria Police has proven that it is not a safe organisation for many [LGBTIQA+] people to engage with.”

No Police at Pride has called on Melbourne to follow the example of other cities, including Brisbane, in asking police not to march in uniform at Pride.

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