How things have changed in 30 years. Or have they?
In 1978 police arrested 56 people, marching for the right to freedom, at the first Mardi Gras. In 2009 police arrested 18 people inside Sleaze Ball. While those 56 arrests laid the foundation for the Mardi Gras we have today, how much longer is our community is going to support dance parties that are now open slather for police with sniffer dogs.
The NSW Ombudsman has reported on the ineffectiveness of this approach to drug control. On a weekend when a police officer is critically injured and a glassing is reported at a gay venue, I question police tactics and the use of taxpayer money at a private event.
Mardi Gras has faced serious crises during its 30 years, but this one has the potential to take down the organisation once and for all. As important as having significant state government funding is, there is no guarantee it will continue.
I hope the board of New Mardi Gras is taking seriously this threat to one of the main sources of serious income for the organisation, and a central part of Mardi Gras’ events both financially and culturally, so they don’t continue to be jeopardised by unnecessary police action.
It raises the question: ‘What if they gave a party … and nobody came?’
— Murray McLachlan, President, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, 1986-1989
Police with the power to request prescriptions and/or other ‘documentation’ from HIV postive people attending a dance party. Now that’s SLEAZEY!
Spectacular, New Mardi Gras. Whatever is next for the best gay destination in the world?
I did not attend Sleaze Ball this year but I hear reports of illegal searches by aggressive police and, for the first time, physical searches by the security personnel at the party.
As dance parties have evolved, progressed, regressed and become part of mainstream society we are seeing more attempts by the police and their controllers to curtail these events (both gay and straight).
Being searched can be very invasive and intimidating and most partygoers are not aware of, or in a position to, act on their rights when confronted with aggressive police or security.
It is important to be aware of what rights security personnel and the police have with regard to physical searches of your person.
If you feel you were illegally searched, you should immediately consult a lawyer. If you were charged, you might have grounds for the case being dismissed and even you you were not charged there may be grounds for other action, including civil suits.
Maybe it is time legal services are supplied at the party. Along with the great work done by people such as the ACON drug rovers and the staff in the medical tent, it may be time to set up a legal advice tent as well.
Being searched, illegally or legally, not only destroys your night out but can cause anxiety and stress for weeks to come. Having legal advice and legal representation available at the party to help those having problems with the police or security could only be a step in the right direction.
It would be great to see lawyers, in and outside the party, who step in to represent people immediately they are confronted with the prospect of a search.
As the other Victorian entrant, and second placeholder in the competition [Mr Leather Australia New Zealand] I would like to congratulate Josh for a job well done and wish him well in all the preparations required for what will be a pretty full-on next level — being IML in Chicago next year.
It was a great competition to be a part of, and the day and a half spent with the other competitors before the night was a terrific opportunity to bond with like-minded men from across Australasia.
— Peter Fitzgerald (Laird Leather Man 2009)