On October 21, 2020 an open letter was published calling for the removal of police and corrective services from any future Mardi Gras Parades and WorldPride 2023. The letter is penned by activist group Pride In Protest and a number of LGBTQI artists.

The letter asks that, “As Mardi Gras season approaches, we the undersigned fervently hope that our internationally celebrated pride parade will be able to proceed, but we ask that the board reconsider the participation of the police and corrective services, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Pride In Protests’ open letter has been signed by a number of Australian LGBTQI artists, including the majority of participating artists in Mardi Gras’ Sissy Ball, Tom Ballard, Montaigne, Brendan Maclean, Maeve Marsden and Bhenji Ra, amongst others.

Alex Bouchet, a candidate for Pride In Protest at this years’ Mardi Gras board elections told Star Observer that the idea for this open letter came about after “we started getting quite a lot of feedback from Indigenous people and Indigenous groups as to steps we could be taking” and that it was important to “listen to those voices and try and do something.”

In recent years, there have been a number of similar calls to ban police attendance at Pride events internationally.

 In 2018, The Auckland Pride Board made the decision to ban police in uniform from attending the 2019 parade. Similarly, Pride Toronto banned police floats and stalls from all parades in 2017, although have since stated that police would be allowed at parades in 2019 if they were to make an application and obey by entry rules for the parade. Police officers have also been barred from marching in uniform in a number of states in the US including Minneapolis, Wisconsin and Durham County in North Carolina.

After the decision was made to ban police from marching in uniform at the Auckland Pride Parade and for the Auckland Pride Parade to become a march instead, organisations like Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED) and The Rainbow New Zealand Charitable Trust pulled funding for the event.

A year after these decisions were made, Auckland Pride director Max Tweedie reportedly stated that “We’re happy with how the march went and don’t plan to bring back the parade.”

In a statement to Star Observer, CEO of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Albert Kruger stated that “At the last two Mardi Gras AGMs the members voted to not ban the police from the parade, acknowledging that their active involvement in the march is a sign of reconciliation and progress, and for that reason Mardi Gras will continue to welcome their involvement.”

The letter is currently open to be signed by any member of the public until November 5, 2020, when it will be officially submitted to the Mardi Gras Board for response.

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