THE 2016 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras had fewer police searches, fewer drug possession charges than previous years and no official complaints regarding police conduct
The reductions have been attributed to Fair Play, a joint initiative of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Inner City Legal Centre and ACON. The program is designed to help partygoers understand their legal rights and to monitor police operations at the Mardi Gras party.
From a crowd of more than 12,000 at the official Mardi Gras party, there were a total fifty-six police searches in total with twenty-six of those resulting in possession charges.
Fair Play volunteers worked with police to ensure searches were conducted appropriately, and provided support and information to partygoers. A specialist legal clinic run by the Inner City Legal Centre the following week provided free legal advice to those charged.
“Fair Play is an example of the strength that collaboration can bring to a divisive community issue. We are proud to be involved in this partnership, and look forward to building on Fair Play’s successes in future years,” said Director of the Inner City Legal Centre, Vicki Harding.
Minimising the impact of the police presence on members of the LGBTIQ community has been an ongoing goal of Fair Play organisers. The strong relationship forged between community organisations and the police over the past three years of Fair Play’s operation has been key to achieving this.
“Fair Play is an example of what community collaboration can accomplish. It is an initiative that has achieved results for all people and organisations involved,” said outgoing CEO of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Michele Bauer.
Fair Play will return for the 2017 Mardi Gras season.