A group of activists opposing police participation in today’s Midsumma Pride March has presented an open letter to politicians and the CEO of the Midsumma Festival.
Released to the public last month, the letter details the reasons held by marginalised groups within the LGBTIQA+ community for feeling unsafe around groups of uniformed police.
The activist group, No Police at Pride, is calling for LGBTIQA+ officers to march as individuals and leave their uniforms at home.
“Pride March should be led by and for LGBTIQA+ communities,” their letter reads.
“We do not believe that police serve our interests by participating against community wishes.”
Their request has stirred controversy in the community, with some arguing that queer officers should be able to celebrate all parts of their identities.
Recent Victorian research found that a large majority of LGBTIQA+ people, particularly trans and gender diverse people, did not trust or feel respected by police.
“We delivered the open letter to Victoria Police, Minister for Equality Martin Foley, Midsumma CEO Karen Bryant, and the Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities Todd Fernando,” organiser Joshua Badge told Pink Advocate.
Badge said that Bryant and Fernando had agreed to meet with the group, but Victoria Police and the Minister had not yet responded.
No Police at Pride has gathered more than 1,100 signatures on a petition from community members who oppose Victoria Police participation in the march.
It is being delivered to Victoria Police today, on the 20th anniversary of police marching at the Melbourne Pride event.
In response to the open letter, Emmanuel Cusack, a former advisor to the South Australian Police Minister has launched a rival petition in support of Victoria Police marching in uniform at Pride.
It has so far gathered 43 signatures.
“[Police] deserve to walk proudly in uniform at Midsumma Pride March in Melbourne,” the petition reads.
“The police have been the enemy – we need them to be allies.
“Our LGBTIQA+ officers within police departments are leading this charge and have contributed to significant cultural shift within the police force.”