LGBTQI activists Joshua Badge and Frank Gafa have stated in an open letter that Victoria Police should not attend the Midsumma Pride March next week in Melbourne’s St Kilda.

The open letter, which was published online on Tuesday, has attracted signatures from over 100 activists, academics, writers and performers.

 

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According to Pedestrian.TV, Victoria Police “confirmed in December it would attend” the February 6 event.

Police ‘Presence Makes Many More People in Our Communities Unsafe’

Badge and Gafa wrote, “while some people can safely interact with police, their presence makes many more people in our communities unsafe.”

This comes after a recent finding from the Victorian Pride Lobby revealed that four in five LGBTQI people do not trust Victoria Police.

Badge told Pedestrian.TV that Pride March needs to be one where “all LGBTQIA+ people feel safe and are able to attend and participate.”

They said Victoria Police “have ignored issues on this concern,” and they hope the open letter “encourages them to listen to community.”

Gafa also told the news outlet Victoria Police is an “organisation in need of some good press” and “participating at Pride is a way of making the organisation seem progressive and LGBTQ-friendly when it isn’t in practice.”

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‘Police Violence are Everyday Experiences for Many People’

Badge and Gafa also highlighted in the letter that “police violence are everyday experiences for many people.”

They reassure everyone is “welcome” but are calling for the “decentring of police.”

“We want to see Pride exist in solidarity with communities worldwide and follow the example of Auckland, Brisbane, NYC, and Toronto Pride,” they wrote.

“Pride March should be led by and for LGBTIQA+ communities. We do not believe that police serve our interests by participating against community wishes.”

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State’s Police Force Hopes to Meet LGBTQI Peoples’ ‘Needs Into the Future’

Neil Paterson, Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner, told Pedestrian.TV, the state’s police force hoped to “engage directly with Victoria’s LGBTIQ community” and “listen to their issues and concerns.”

He also said it was about ensuring the police deliver a service that meets LGBTQI peoples’ “needs into the future.”

Liam Elphick, lecturer and law researcher at Monash University, tweeted: “Being an advocate means listening to and representing your community. Our @VicPrideLobby report found that 3 in 4 queer people do not want police marching in uniform at Pride. I’m proud to have signed this letter, and grateful to @joshuabadge and @FrankGafa for their advocacy.”

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