Pride in Protest fail in bid to change the focus of Mardi Gras

A grassroot community group that proposed to drastically change the culture of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has failed to get any spots on the organisation’s board or have any of their proposals adopted.

Pride In Protest fielded four candidates at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting on Saturday, but the results released today reveal they were all unsuccessful.

Among those they wanted to see banned from participating in the parade was the Liberal party, the NSW police force, the military and corporate sponsor QANTAS.

Pride in Protest argued that the event needed to return to its activist roots and many of the groups currently marching in the parade did not belong.

The group also have called for the LGBTIQ community to boycott Eurovision 2019 as it will be held in Israel. The broadcaster of Eurovision in Australia in SBS, who have also broadcast the Mardi Gras parade for the last few years.

The participation of long term supporter the ANZ bank was also questioned following revelations about the bank’s conduct during the recent Banking Royal Commission.

Despite have a strong Facebook following, and having made a series of high profile media appearances over the last week, the group did not find any success. At Saturday afternoon’s AGM all their proposals were voted down.

At the AGM three Board Members were reinstated: Christopher Brooke, Kat Dopper and Jesse Matheson. They will be joined by one new Board member: Adrian Phoon.

In his candidate statement Phoon said he was interested in ensuring the organisation engaged and welcomed LGBTIQ+ people of all cultural backgrounds, genders and life experiences, remained viable and financially sustainable, and builds platforms for continued advocacy of LGBTIQ+ rights in metropolitan, rural, regional and remote Australia and abroad.

Previous Board members continuing their two-year term are: Kate Wickett, Giovanni Campolo-Arcidiaco, John Hannaford and Robyn Kennedy.

Pride in Protest candidate Salem Barrett-Brown said they were dismayed that there was so much opposition to debate on the issues.

“We are dismayed at the hostility of the Mardi Gras establishment to dissent and debate. The refusal to even support a non-binding review of corporate partnerships on human rights grounds is really quite astonishing and a major shift from the social justice roots of Mardi Gras. But the fact that our lead candidate placed in the top four on primary votes shows community support for the ideas we’re bringing to the table, and an appetite for a break
from the corporate trajectory of Mardi Gras.” Barrett-Brown said.

Evan Gray, one of the Pride in Protest board candidates, commented that they believed the momentum from their campaign would continue to build despite no being successful on this occasion.

“It’s clear that the establishment membership of Mardi Gras is well to the right of the everyday person, particularly when they give sign-off to the most unpopular government in Australian history. It’s heartening to see the broader queer community on the streets, opposing the Liberal Party’s cruel policies.

“We hope the momentum we’ve built through this campaign helps to build an even stronger queer rights movement going forward, including the upcoming rally on the anniversary of the YES vote on November 15, against the Liberals’ proposed religious exemptions, and some principled, political protest floats in next year’s Mardi Gras parade.”

Another member of the group, Katie Thorburn, said Mardi Gras had become focussed on the interests of elite inner-city gay and lesbian people.

“We have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support for the debates our efforts have opened up in our community, and will continue to stand up for human rights and justice for everyone.

“Mardi Gras should be a space that stands up for all queer people, including refugees, trans people, First Nations communities, and other marginalised groups, not just corporate and conservative political interests, and not just for the interests of elite inner city gay and lesbian people.”

OIP Staff, Updated 29-10-18 1:18pm comments from Pride in Protest added.