Brisbane Pride has requested that police officers do not participate in this year’s Pride March whilst wearing uniform in the wake of ongoing allegations of homophobic, racist and sexist conduct within Queensland Police Services.

These allegations follow an investigation launched in July by the Ethical Standards Command of Queensland Police into a ‘disturbing’ Facebook group, littered with homophobic, sexist and racist posts by a number of current and past police officers, as reported by Star Observer. 

Upon the announcement of their decision, Brisbane Pride Festival issued a statement via their website.

“We acknowledge that progress has been made to change the culture and behaviours of the Queensland Police Service. But that change has been inconsistent and at times there has been seemingly little or no accountability for the homophobia, transphobia and discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people that remains.

“The Committee of Brisbane Pride Incorporated decided to allow Queensland Police Officers (QPS) to march in this year’s Brisbane Pride Festival Rally and March. We have requested that Officers not march in uniform,” Brisbane Pride Festival stated.

Homophobia Not Addressed

Unsurprisingly, the announcement caused a stir on social media, with many users confused by Brisbane Pride’s statement.

Star Observer reached out to current Brisbane Pride President Bec Johnson for clarity.

“There are two particular things to keep in mind. The first is QPS approached us for a chat about it all and about them marching. We responded with a letter around that and raised some of our concerns.

“In July, the commissioner came out condemning the QPS and a Facebook page that was created that had sexist, racist and homophobic comments. We were concerned about that and about the increasing homophobia and that [was] not being addressed. We welcomed the commissioner’s condemnation, and that the matter would be fully investigated.

“We [are] out in the community, we have to be transparent so we would like transparency on what has happened around that investigation because we also know that in the community we are two and half times more at risk of poor mental health and suicide because of that kind of homophobia,” Johnson said.

Police Are Not Banned From Walking The Pride March

Queensland Police At Brisbane Pride Rally 2018. Image: Facebook

Johnson stressed that Brisbane Pride organisers have a great working relationship with the police commissioner, adding “That police haven’t been banned from the march at all.

“We have agreed for them to march out of uniform this year while we work through two things- the first is an acknowledgment, because while the Queensland Government has provided acknowledgment of police brutality and homophobia, the police themselves haven’t- that would be historic for Queensland. Other states and territories have done that but we haven’t.

“The second thing is that we would like to see the outcome of the current investigation. I think the message has been contorted, but we are definitely not about excluding people, that’s not how we do things.”

Queensland Police Service emphasised that their relationship with Brisbane Pride is both “positive and productive” in a statement supplied to Star Observer.

“Commissioner Katarina Carroll recently met with representatives of Brisbane Pride and following positive and productive discussions, the QPS will not organise a uniformed contingent to march in this year’s pride event in Brisbane.

“Police officers are still welcome to partake in the march but not in uniform as in previous years. The QPS will provide all necessary operational support to ensure the ongoing success of the event and will continue to work with Brisbane Pride into the future,” the statement read.

Mixed Reaction To Decision

Queensland Police At Brisbane Pride Rally 2018. Image: Facebook

Host of Brisbane’s Queer Radio on 4zzz Blair Martin told Star Observer that he is supportive of the move. Martin acknowledged Queensland’s poor history of police corruption since the reign of premier Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen, who famously defined homosexuality as morally deviant in an attempt to gain an electoral advantage.

“The party that Bjelke-Petersen led was corrupt, and the police allowed that corruption to carry on. Even now there are people who were part of that police force who are still there today, that corruption is still there, that attitude is still there. QPS are corrupt, they have always been [corrupt] but to understand that you need to understand that the QPS still maintain these structures that imprison society.”

However, not all within the Brisbane community agree with Brisbane Pride’s decision to ban police marching in uniform.

Former Brisbane Pride president of ten years Deeje Hancock told Star Observer, “This Pride, members of our greater queer community will be excluded from marching in uniform, but only if that uniform happens to belong to QPS.

“It is my understanding that any other service uniforms are not being treated in this fashion. I acknowledge the atrocities of the past, I cannot however condone any young person who is a member of our community being deprived the right to march, with pride in both their sexuality and their uniform. Especially when other services are not subject to the same restrictions,” Hancock added.

The full statement from Brisbane Pride can be accessed here.


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