A float application from the UFO-related Raelian movement has been rejected by New Mardi Gras, despite qualifying to appear in last year’s parade.
According to New Mardi Gras co-chair Michael Woodhouse, the application failed to meet any of the three criteria for entry, as GLBTQ people, or as a non-commercial or commercial entry.
The parade is open to GLBTQ individuals or groups of individuals, but Woodhouse told the Star that none of the material we’ve actually got says that this is entirely about gay and lesbian members.
Angelus Michaels, GLBTQ national manager of the Australian Raelian Movement, admitted the group marching did not strictly include all gay and lesbian members, because the Raelian ideology encourages a more fluid sexuality and rejects labels. The banner on the float reading Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Queer Raelians was featured in last year’s float at the request of NMG in order for them to be allowed to participate, according to Michaels. It was part of the design again for 2004, but the entry was rejected.
The group was also denied, according to Woodhouse, because they failed to demonstrate a history of support of the GLBTQ community and because the submission did not express that support, as stated in the entry criteria.
The application presented by the Raelians stated the group participated in large numbers in the protest against the visit by ex-gay proponents Father John Harvey and Peter Rudegeair in January last year.
It also noted that it was an international directive from His Holiness Rael that the Raelian Movement around the world must show its support of GLBTQ events. The application included a copy of a letter sent by Rael to the mayor of San Francisco two weeks ago, suggesting the secession of Northern California into the world’s first independent gay state.
The Raelians reached national attention last year with claims they have successfully commenced human cloning. According to the Raelian website, the movement was founded in 1973 in France following a meeting between the extra-terrestrial Yahweh Elohim and Rael, now leader of the group. Earlier this year, the Australian Raelian Movement’s GLBTQ national manager Angelus Michaels gave a lecture at the Pride Centre on the value of human cloning for the gay and lesbian community.
Woodhouse expressed concern about the size of the website address featured on the float and the fact that the site was commercial and sold products. The only products for sale at www.rael.org are books propounding the group’s philosophy.
Michaels told the Star he was willing to reduce the size of the URL and said NMG agreed to call him to negotiate these changes, but Michaels said he was only contacted to be told the float entry had been rejected.
Woodhouse denied the group had been discriminated against. All of the conversations that happened within the parade working group in making these decisions were very clearly cast within the context of -˜it’s not okay to not allow someone in the parade because we think they’re a bit kooky’.
Michaels expressed disappointment at the NMG decision, pointing to the fledgling organisation’s philosophy of inclusion. He said the group would still be willing to participate in the parade if NMG changed their decision and was keen that the incident be seen as a breakdown in communication rather than discrimination.