Activist group Pride in Protest says presence of police makes Indigenous people feel unsafe

A controversial bid to remove police and prison officer floats from the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has failed at the event’s annual general meeting.

But, in a strong anti-police statement, Saturday’s motion attracted 44% of the votes, drawing 261 votes in favour. Three hundred and twenty-seven members voted against it.

The motion was put forward by activist group Pride in Protest, which wants the event to return to its radical roots.

The group says the presence of police in the march makes Indigenous people feel unsafe, in light of the high rates of incarceration and excessive policing that are the focus of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Other Pride in Protest proposals, including one to sever a sponsorship relationship with Qantas over its role in facilitating deportations and another to ban the Liberal party from the parade, also failed.

The proposal to exclude the police float was opposed by the Mardi Gras board, which said it ran counter to their core value of inclusion, and the NSW police.

An open letter supporting the bid to exclude police was signed by more than 1,000 people, including comedian Tom Ballard and musician Montaigne, and was published in October.

Similar motions have failed at two previous AGMs but Pride in Protest says this was the closest they came to winning a majority.

The activist group is also seeking to expand its share of the organisation’s eight board positions after winning a spot in 2019.

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Four candidates are running under the group’s branding. Results from the vote are due to be counted later on Saturday.

The annual general meeting was held on Zoom due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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