Sydney Mardi Gras to vote on banning police floats

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras will vote on whether to uninvite Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison and to ban police floats from the parade. 

The organization will hold a meeting on Nov. 30th, at which several hundred members are expected to vote.

Mardi Gras in Sydney is the biggest pride festival in Australia, and the 2020 parade is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 29th. It will be preceded and followed by days of parties and associated events, including a film festival. Headline acts scheduled to perform in 2020 include Dua Lipa. 

The event attracts thousands of visitors to Australia, and is a major tourism boost for Sydney. An estimated 500,000 watched 12,500 marchers at the 2019 event.

Related: New year, new reason to party—check out the wild and sexy Sydney Mardi Gras  

However, like other Pride festivals around the world, organizers have faced criticism around the role of corporations, and whether the event still asserts a political message. 

In 2018, then-Prime Minister Michael Turnbull attended the parade with his wife, Lucy, just weeks after same-sex marriage became legal in the country. 

Current Prime Minister Scott Morrison was invited to attend the 2019 festival, but did not do so. He has again been invited for next year.

Some in the LGBTQ community are unhappy with Morrison’s record on gay and trans rights. In particular, he voiced opposition to the country’s Safe Schools program, which sought to help vulnerable kids and make schools more LGBTQ-inclusive. 

A motion to uninvite him has been submitted by the group Pride in Protest. It has also submitted a separate motion to ban police floats in the parade, and has nominated four candidates for election to the Mardi Gras board.

“First Nations people, Aboriginal people, really anyone who’s in a marginalized community that has been vilified or oppressed by the police … how are they supposed to feel safe when Mardi Gras essentially gives them tacit consent by allowing their float or for them to march in uniform in the parade,” Charlie Murphy of Pride in Protest told AAP

Related: Gay Sydney 

In seeking to ban police from participating in the parade in anything other than a security capacity, Sydney Mardi Gras could follow in the footsteps of cities such as Toronto, Portland, and Sacramento.

Earlier this year, Edmonton Pride in Canada was canceled due to disagreements among organizers over whether to ban the police and military from participating.

Similar motions have been discussed previously by Mardi Gras members in Sydney but have failed to pass, so there’s no guarantee it will pass this time.