Australia

Sydney Mardi Gras members vote against Pride in Protest push to ban police from 2021 parade

There is a push for NSW police to no longer have a uniformed presence in annual Sydney Mardi Gras parade on Oxford Street in Sydney. Source: x AAP

A proposal to exclude police floats from Sydney's Mardi Gras parade has failed to pass, drawing 44 per cent of members' votes at the annual general meeting.

A controversial bid to remove police and prison officer floats from Sydney's pride parade has fallen short at the annual general meeting of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

But in a strong anti-police statement, Saturday's motion attracted 44 per cent 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 world-famous event to return to its radical roots.

They say police's presence in the march makes Indigenous people feel unsafe to participate, in light of the high rates of incarceration and over-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, who said it ran counter to their core value of inclusion, and the NSW Police Force.

But those supporting it argued the presence of police excluded First Nations people from the parade.

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An open letter supporting the bid to exclude police signed by more than 1000 people including artists and performers Tom Ballard and Montaigne, was published in October.

Similar motions have failed at two previous AGMs but Pride in Protest says this is the closest they've come 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.

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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