The movement to expel police from Pride parades has grown in popularity throughout the last decade. Famously, a Black Lives Matter sit-in at the Toronto Pride Parade in 2016 was successful in demanding the removal of the police from the parade. This demand was taken up and won successfully in later Pride parades in Auckland and San Diego. The call for solidarity between communities of colour oppressed by the police, the queer community, and the places they intersect, has manifested in calls to end the abuses of the police and prison system as well as ending the pinkwashing PR spins cynically employed by police forces.
The Pride parade in Sydney, called Mardi Gras, has had one of the most visible campaigns in the country to have police and corrective services removed from the Parade. Over the past three years Pride in Protest, a grassroots group, has moved motions at the AGM calling for the removal of the cops. While none of the motions have passed, the yes vote has changed from around 25% in 2018 to 45% in 2020, showing huge momentum behind anti-police sentiment and anti-racism in the queer community. An open letter from the community also went out in 2020 with the call for cops and screws to be removed from the Parade, with over a thousand signatures, including a number of prominent Mardi Gras artists. The workers who make Mardi Gras what it is are sick to death of cops pinkwashing their brutality as well.
The police being unwelcome at Pride for good will happen in Sydney – it’s not a question of if, but when. For the 2021 Mardi Gras, Pride in Protest will bring the politics of a world without police, prisons, and borders for a Oxford Street March on the Saturday of Mardi Gras. While Mardi Gras, the incorporated association, has a pay-to-view ticketed Parade featuring cops, corporations and the Liberal Party at the SCG for 2021. Pride in Protest’s march will be a free-to-attend Pride march in the spirit of 1978, not compromising on the politics of liberation for our queer community and all other oppressed communities. We encourage all those in Sydney to support the Taylor Square Mardi Gras march, and for those across Australia to fight against the cops from being a part of all Pride marches and from being welcomed as allies in our community.