Police to discuss marching out of uniform at Mardi Gras

Jack Gramenz and Nyibol Gatluak |

NSW Police officers have marched for the past 20 years at Mardi Gras in Sydney.
NSW Police officers have marched for the past 20 years at Mardi Gras in Sydney.

Senior police have met Mardi Gras organisers in an attempt to reverse a decision to bar a uniformed contingent from marching in Sydney’s annual gay and lesbian festival.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb described the Tuesday afternoon meeting as “fruitful” but more discussions were needed.

“It’s early days and we’ve got a few days left to work through this with Mardi Gras,” she told reporters.

Asked if police would consider marching out of uniform, the commissioner said she had not ruled it out.

Police officers at Mardi Gras
NSW Police officers have marched in Mardi Gras for the past 20 years. (Steven Saphore/AAP PHOTOS)

Ms Webb acknowledged people within the LGBTQI community were divided, adding she would talk to festival organisers to “see how we get things back on track”.

Sydney Mardi Gras has been contacted for further comment.

The invitation for police to march in Saturday’s parade was withdrawn on Monday night.

Debate over police participation in the Mardi Gras parade has intensified after the arrest of Senior Constable Beau Lamarre-Condon, 28, over the alleged murders of Jesse Baird, 26, and his boyfriend Luke Davies, 29.

The killings allegedly occurred at Mr Baird’s home in inner-city Paddington, not far from where the parade will take place.

“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,” the Mardi Gras board said in a statement.

Investigators allege Lamarre-Condon’s crimes followed a months-long campaign of “predatory behaviour” towards Mr Baird, who he dated briefly.

Pride in Protest's Charlie Murphy
Pride in Protest’s Charlie Murphy says there is no trust in NSW Police. (Esther Linder/AAP PHOTOS)

The senior constable previously marched in the parade with the NSW Police contingent.

Ms Webb said all police officers had been affected by the alleged murders.

“We’ve all been rocked and there’s some positives that can come out of participating in Mardi Gras on Saturday,” she said.

But other floats would have boycotted the parade if police were allowed to march because of the grief and extreme anger in the community, Pride in Protest spokeswoman Charlie Murphy told AAP.

“The relationship between police and the community is at complete rock bottom and there is no confidence and trust in them,” she said.

Broadcaster Julie McCrossin said she hoped police would be able to march.

“As someone arrested multiple times during the early days of gay liberation in 1970s Sydney, this cultural change and inclusiveness was what we were fighting for,” she said on social media site X, formerly Twitter.

Independent state MP Alex Greenwich, whose Sydney electorate covers the parade’s Oxford Street route, said he hoped police would march despite organisers reflecting community concerns about policing practices.

“But we’re only going to address that working together,” he said.

City of Sydney mayor Clover Moore agreed it would be a pity if police did not march.

“It’s taken years to get the police to have a positive attitude about diverse communities, including the LGBTQ-plus community and we need to constantly educate them,” she said.

“They need to be involved to be educated and it’s important that people see them at the march and they’re endorsing the community,” she said.

Premier Chris Minns and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese have also backed police taking part in the parade.

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