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Mardi Gras board asks New South Wales Police not to march in parade

The board of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has asked New South Wales Police not to march in the parade on Saturday following the arrest of senior constable Beaumont Lamarre-Condon over the murders of missing Sydney couple Jesse Baird and Luke Davies.

“The NSW police force has been advised that the board of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has decided to withdraw the invitation to NSW police to participate in this year’s event,” a police spokesperson said in a statement.

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“While disappointed with this outcome, NSW police will continue to work closely with the LGBTIQA+ community and remain committed to working with organisers to provide a safe environment for all those participating in and supporting this Saturday’s parade.”

In a statement the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras said it had not been an easy decision, but they felt the community needed space to grieve the loss of two community members.

“Our community needs space to grieve the loss of Jesse and Luke who, before this tragedy, would have been here celebrating with us at the Festival.

“In light of this, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Board feels that having the NSW Police march this year could add to the distress within our communities, already deeply affected by recent events. The Board has taken the decision to request that the Police do not march in the 2024 Parade.

“This decision was not made lightly, especially considering that many NSW Police members who participate in the Parade are also members of the LGBTQIA+ community and are navigating the impact of this tragedy alongside us. However, we believe that their participation at this year’s event could intensify the current feelings of sorrow and distress.” the board said.

“This decision allows space for the community to heal this year and acknowledges the profound grief and strain that we are enduring. This is an opportunity to pause and reflect.

The decision came after growing community calls for police to be uninvited from the event.  Alongside the public outcry over a serving police officer being charged over the deaths, the New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb has also just issued an apology for the decades of shortcomings the service had in investigating a number of murders of gay men from the 1970’s through to the 2010s.

A Special Inquiry recently handed down a series of recommendations after hearing months testimony from people who shared how police systematically failed to adequately investigate violent hate crimes often resulting in murders. The police are yet to formally respond to the recommendations.

Whether police should be allowed to participate in the 2024 parade has been a topic of heated debate in recent days with the Sydney Morning Herald publishing an editorial calling on police to withdraw from marching.

Independent New South Wales MP Alex Greenwich spoke about the issue earlier today telling ABC Radio that while he appreciated their was a range of views on the issue, he hoped police would remain in the parade.

“I want the NSW police force to stand with the LGBTQI community every day of the year and that includes during the Mardi Gras parade,” he told ABC Radio.

“I want to see them march and I want to see them work with us… they understand the task ahead, they understand the hurt and the pain in the community and they are wanting to take steps to address that.”

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns also voiced support for police participation saying removing them from the parade would be a backwards step.

“There are many LGBTQI members of the NSW police force who would have battled prejudice within the workforce,” he said. “I think that NSW police marching in the Mardi Gras parade is an important part of bringing the communities together.” the premier said.

Police Commissioner says she can’t change the events of forty years ago, or the events of last week

Earlier on Monday commissioner Karen Webb said it would be a “travesty” if police were not allowed to march.

“We have been building a bridge with the gay and lesbian community since the 78ers were mishandled by police back in the day. We have been  participating in Mardi Gras for the last 20 years and haven’t missed a year.

“I would hate to see that this is the year we are excluded because of the actions of one person, that is not gay hate related, this is a crime of passion – we will allege, it is domestic related – we allege. That would be a real tragedy for this organisation to be excluded.

The commissioner said excluded police would set the relationship between the police and the LGBTIQA+ communities backwards.

“I think this is a real opportunity for the community to embrace us, given the progress we have made. I can’t change the events of forty years ago, thirty years ago, or even ten years ago, or last week.” Commissioner Webb said.

A petition launched on Change.org quickly drew signatories as it highlighted that the accused killer of the two men had marched in the police contingent in previous years.

Decision to omit police labelled exclusion over inclusion

The decision to ask the police not to participate was quickly criticised by conservative media commentators.

Sky News anchor Laura Jayes took to social media platform X to describe the request as a “A cruel decision from Mardi Gras organisers.”

“As if to pretend gay police officers don’t exist and don’t feel grief and pain from this heinous crime…” she posted.

Sky News colleague Liz Storer (pictured above) said the decision did not make sense because the alleged perpetrator of the double murder was also a member of the gay community.

“The alleged perpetrator was gay, he himself was gay, how on earth does this make sense?

“No we’re saying the police can’t be gay, can’t celebrate with us, what happened to all the inclusivity and ‘love is love’?” Storer asked.

“Now if a gay member, or a member of the LGBTIQ community happens to work for the police they’re not welcome anymore? That seems pretty exclusive not inclusive to me.”

Caleb Bond suggested people needed to understand the difference between police brutality and domestic violence.

“It’s not a case of police brutality, what has been alleged here is a case of domestic violence…it’s got nothing to do him being gay.” Bond said.

OIP Staff


Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

QLife: 1800 184 527 / qlife.org.au (Webchat 3pm – midnight)
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DISCHARGEDinfo@discharged.asn.au / discharged.asn.au
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Lifeline: 13 11 14 / lifeline.org.au

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 / www.beyondblue.org.au


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