ORGANISERS of the No Pride in Detention (NPID) float have refuted a statement issued by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, including the allegation they were harassing other marchers in Saturday’s parade.

In a video released by the group on Monday, which has since gone viral, parade producer Anthony Russell is seen and heard in the parade marshalling area telling NPID float members to behave properly and gave them one more chance or faced being kicked out of the parade all together. (Scroll down for the full video)

Mardi Gras chief executive Michele Bauer said in an official statement yesterday that NSW Police had informed Mardi Gras officials about “an unacceptable level of harassment and offensive comments from the NPID float members being directed towards members of the Rainbow Labor float, including leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten and deputy leader of the opposition, Tanya Plibersek”.

Shorten and Plibersek were part of the Rainbow Labor contingent, which was one place ahead of the NPID float in the parade order.

Mardi Gras officials then decided to reshuffle the parade order and move NPID — which is affiliated with the controversial Community Action Against Homophobia group — a few places behind the Rainbow Labor float. Both contingents went ahead and marched in the parade without further incident.

CLICK HERE to read Michele Bauer’s statement in full

NPID creator and organiser Evan Van Zijl said his float was not harassing anyone in the parade marshalling area.

“Unless harassment means standing behind the people you were assigned to stand behind with placards and chanting and moving closer to the camera,” he said.

“We were chanting, ‘we here, we’re queer, refugees are welcome here’, which is what we did during the entire parade.”

Van Zijl also rejected Bauer’s point that police had complained about their behaviour by claiming NPID members did not have any interactions with police before the parade.

“The first engagement we had about it was with Anthony (Russell),” Van Zijl said.

“If it was the police telling Mardi Gras what to do and Mardi Gras was just complying, it doesn’t make sense for them to be so explosive.

“Most of the time these people making the claims of harassment refuse to substantiate or provide evidence of the harassment. Which is ironic and it’s quite telling.”

In the official Mardi Gras statement Bauer said the organisation would conduct an internal investigation into the incident, but Van Zijl claims no one from Mardi Gras has contacted him for information.

NSW Police Superintendent and the spokesperson for Sexuality and Gender Diversity Tony Crandell said before the parade started, police “received a report of harassing behaviour towards members of the Rainbow Labor float”.

“Police contacted the event organisers to discuss the issue and possible courses of action,” he said.

“The organisers took appropriate action to remedy the issue, and police fully support their decision.”

Van Zijl said NPID still achieved their aim on Saturday night and would continue to advocate for LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers in detention at upcoming rallies.

The group is also involved in a campaign to free a gay Iranian couple (Nima and Ashkan) who were resettled on Nauru — where homosexuality is a crime — and where they face assault because of their sexuality.

“We sent photos to the Iranian couple Nima and Ashkan of us at the parade. They liked them and they were very happy,” Van Zijl said.

To sign the petition asking Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to resettle the men in Australia, click here.

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