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UPDATED: Greens call for police out of Mardi Gras celebration

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Amanda Cohn
NSW Greens MP
26 February 2024

The Greens are continuing to call for the NSW Police Force to exclude itself from the 2024 Mardi Gras parade, as a sign of respect, deference, and commitment to change.

This media release has been updated (Wednesday 28 February 2024) after a decision was made that the NSW Police would participate out of uniform.

The call from the Greens comes after NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb made an apology for the force's systemic failure in the handling of LGBTIQ hate crimes over a period of 40 years. It also comes four months after the Special Commission of Inquiry report was handed down, with NSW Police failing to commit to implementing any recommendations to date.

Last week in response to questions from the Greens at Budget Estimates, the Police Minister was not able to articulate progress towards implementation, only recommitting to an internal working group process.

The NSW Greens are calling for the NSW Police Force to commit to implementing the recommendations of the Special Commission of Inquiry.

It is recommended that Mardi Gras undertake community consultation on the process for the NSW Police Force to be involved with celebrations again.

The NSW Greens request individual members of the NSW Police who want to participate in Mardi Gras celebrations to do so in a community float rather than representing the NSW Police Force.

Quotes attributable to Greens spokesperson for LGBTQIA+ Dr Amanda Cohn MLC:

“LGBTIQ hate crimes are not just historical. The pain and grief of queer communities in NSW is tangible right now, and parts of the community don’t feel safe reporting threats or violence to police. The NSW Police Force must reckon with its “shameful homophobia, transphobia and prejudice,” as articulated by Justice John Sackar who conducted the Special Commission of Inquiry.

“These fears have been sparked fresh again after the alleged murders of Luke Davies and Jesse Baird last week by a member of the NSW Police Force, using a police firearm. However the reasons that the NSW Police Force should exclude itself from marching at Mardi Gras go far beyond this recent tragedy.

“On the weekend, NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb apologised to the families of gay hate crime victims who were denied justice as a result of systemic failures within the NSW Police Force, but provided no commitment to reform.

“There’s clearly so much work to be done considering the criticism of the NSW Police Force’s engagement with the Inquiry as adversarial and defensive, including failures to keep or provide appropriate records and resistance to recognising the extent of hostility experienced by LGBTQIA+ people.

“Marching at Mardi Gras won’t erase decades of systemic violence or patch the wounds still open today. We want to see the NSW Police Force use this year to commit to the transformative change that LGBTQIA+ communities need, including by implementing the recommendations of the Special Commission of Inquiry.

“The NSW Police continuing to investigate themselves cannot deliver the meaningful change that is needed. Only an independent review of the institutional approach to policing can deliver the transparency and accountability the community needs to build trust,” said Dr Cohn.

 

Media contact: Josh Appleton - [email protected] 

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Amanda Cohn
NSW Greens MP
26 February 2024
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