The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL), ACON, the Inner City Legal Centre and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) will convene at ACON’s offices in Surry Hills on Thursday, June 6 to propose recommendations to fellow community organisations and the public before taking them to NSW Police and state Parliament.
While the groups are not releasing the draft recommendations before the meeting, GLRL Co-convenor Justin Koonin assured the Star Observer that the public would have the chance to voice their opinions on the measures before they were fully adopted.
“The recommendations have been developed following consultation at a community forum, as well as complaints received directly to us about issues that are extremely important to our community, and also to the reputation of Sydney as a destination for LGBTI people worldwide,” Koonin said.
The push for reform stems from the public outcry that arose when several festival-goers claimed they had been beaten and brutalised by police over the Mardi Gras festival weekend in early March, leading to calls for an independent watchdog to investigate police complaints, a revision of the use of sniffer dogs at public events and more education for officers dealing with the LGBTI community.
The recommendations are largely drawn from a community forum held in March, where police representatives fronted a lively and often hostile crowd of over 200 people and assured the public that they were dedicated to reforming officer behaviour at major events.
ACON also released the minutes from the forum, which detail the harsh response NSW Police and Mardi Gras representatives received from members of the public angry at police conduct during the festival and a perceived deterioration in relations between the LGBTI community and officers.
At the time audience members criticised forum organisers for restricting the use of cameras and recorders inside the venue to a single official minute-taker, a decision organisers defended as necessary to protect the privacy of people who may recount distressing personal experiences with police.