Victorian Police Commissioner Christine Nixon set the tone for police services nationwide with her enthusiastic participation in Mel-bourne’s Pride March on Sunday, despite criticism of the police participation.
However, the NSW Police Service is yet to confirm its participation in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, since internal permission has not yet been given to take part. Whether the NSW or Federal Police Service will parallel Nixon’s action, by sending Commissioner Ryan or perhaps even Police Minister Michael Costa up the Golden Mile on 2 March 2002, is still a matter for debate.
Neither the NSW Police Service nor the Police Association was able to confirm whether this was a possibility yesterday, especially since the entry itself was still pending approval. The entry is -˜in’ at Mardi Gras, but even though final approval [from the Police Service] hasn’t been given yet, we wanted to get the entry in before the Mardi Gras due date, Sue Thompson, NSW Police gay and lesbian client consultant, admitted yesterday.
There’s still so much work to do internally. It’s not just about a float. We have huge -˜marching orders’ to fulfil and there’s six pages worth of application forms to complete. This includes things like first aid and occupational health and safety requirements -¦ I don’t think people realise just how big this venture is in terms of getting us [the police] into the parade.
Across the country, however, Nixon’s participation has attracted laudatory comments. Thanks to Christine Nixon, the Victoria Police made such a huge contribution to Sunday’s Pride March -“ it was the best Pride March yet! said Vicki Jones, Melbourne Marching Girl and photographer. The Melbourne Marching Girls are always proud to be in the Pride March but we were extra proud on Sunday to be photographed with the Chief Commissioner.
Nixon set the tone for her tenure as Police Commissioner with an historic meeting last July with representatives from gay, lesbian and transgender groups. A police officer for 27 years before being appointed Police Commissioner, Nixon gained her knowledge of gay and lesbian issues while based at Darlinghurst police station in the late 1970s. She was on duty there at the time of the mass arrests of gay protest marchers in Taylor Square in 1978.