Activist group Pride in Protest have vowed to go ahead with Saturday’s planned Mardi Gras protest march despite formal opposition from NSW Police.
NSW Police will oppose the Mardi Gras protest in line with current NSW public health orders. Under the present restrictions, political gatherings are limited to 500 people.
At a press conference this morning, Pride in Protest criticised the police’s decision to as unconstructive and discriminatory. The group also accused the police of double standards, alleging that much larger protests have recently been allowed to go ahead.
In January, the NSW Police Minister refused to authorise an Invasion Day protest, leaving organisers to reach an ad-hoc agreement with police that required a heavy law enforcement presence.
Pride in Protest spokesperson Evan Grey said that police should monitor the event under an agreed COVID-safe plan, rather than attempt to stop the march outright. He argued that protestors, more so than the police, have the power to ensure the march goes ahead safely.
Grey also accused the police of double standards after they allowed an anti-vaccination protest to go ahead in the city last week.
NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong expressed her support for the movement and said the police needed to work in a more “constructive and collaborative” manner.
The march has garnered support from a number of NSW parliamentarians: independent member Alex Greenwhich, Labor member for Summer Hill Joanna Haylen and Greens MLC David Shoebridge have all expressed support for the march.
Last to speak was George Newhouse, Pride in Protest’s lawyer. Newhouse denounced the police response, calling it “undemocratic” and an act of “discrimination against the right to protest.” He also suggested the police force may have a vested interest in banning the march, given their historical antipathy towards the Mardi Gras parade and the motivations of Pride in Protest.
Pride in Protest is a radical queer collective who campaign for a Mardi Gras with “No Cops, No Corporations and No Conservatives.” The planned protest march will demand an end to the religious freedoms bill and support decriminalising sex work.
Last year, Pride in Protest moved a motion to ban police from attending the iconic parade. The motion was defeated but still attracted 44% of the vote from the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Board. Pride in Protests say they will continue their push to ban police and take Mardi Gras back to its activist roots.
The march is scheduled to begin at 2pm at Taylor Square. An official, ticketed Mardi Gras event will be held that evening at the Sydney Cricket Ground.