NSW Police Arrest, Fine Department of Homo Affairs Mardi Gras Protestors

NSW Police Arrest, Fine Department of Homo Affairs Mardi Gras Protestors
Image: File photo of Department of Homo Affairs protesting the presence of NSW Police contingent at the 2021 Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras.

The NSW police on Saturday arrested and fined four Department of Homo Affairs (DoHA) members who had staged a novel protest against the police contingent at the Sydney Lesbian and Gay Mardi Gras parade. 

The annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade was replaced this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic by a ticketed event at the Sydney Cricket Ground. 

Four members of DoHA, that calls itself a “political satirist group”, dressed as “cricket umpires”, jumped the fence and intercepted the float of the NSW police at the SCG. 

The “umpires” signalled “you’re out” to the Federal and NSW Police and Corrective Services floats. The protestors held a banner that read ‘‘COPS OUT – HOWZAAAT!!! #BLM #’78’’, in reference to theBlack Lives Matter movement and the 78-ers– the original group of LGBT activists who had marched in the first Sydney Mardi Gras on June 24, 1978. 

The incident was cut from SBS’s live broadcast of the event. But phone footage of the live coverage at SCG showed a person, possibly a volunteer, running and taking the banner down. 

Controversy Over Police Participation In Mardi Gras

In a statement, DoHA said: “The umpires detected foul play on the Mardi Gras 2021  field calling the police OUT. Over policing & Aboriginal deaths in custody continue to occur. To date, not a single police officer has been convicted for the death of a First Nations person in their custody”.

“Our intervention highlights the controversy of uniformed police in the Mardi Gras 2021, particularly in the context of ongoing First Nations resistance, the Bla(c)k Lives Matter movement and ongoing racist, homophobic and transphobic policing”, the group posted on Twitter.

DoHA said there were other protestors in the SCG stands who had held up banners that read: COPS OUT – STOP BLACK DEATHS IN CUSTODY’ and ‘NO PRIDE IN POLICE – STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH OVERPOLICED COMMUNITIES’.  

Last year , the DoHA members had protested in front of the Liberal Party float at the 2020 Mardi Gras. 


Arrested and Fined

The NSW police in a statement confirmed the arrest and said that DoHA members had been fined.

 “Just before 8pm, officers arrested four people within the SCG after they entered the pitch during the parade. They were removed from the premises and received a $165 fine each for climb/jump over fences/seats etc on lands without approval,” the statement said. 

“The main issue for police was preventing anti-social behaviour and ensuring COVID-19 safety protocols were maintained,” Mardi Gras 2021 Operation Commander, Assistant Commissioner Gelina Talbot said.

 “While I’m pleased the majority of those who attended and enjoyed the festivities celebrated responsibly, it is very disappointing one group decided to attempt to disrupt the parade,” added Talbot. 

Pride In Protest, which had organised a Mardi Gras March earlier in the day on Oxford Street, issued a statement in support of DoHA, calling the protest “iconic, camp, and hilarious.”

“It is disgusting that the NSW Police should pinkwash their oppression of First Nations people, and our own community. DoHA’s direct action last night highlighted this hypocrisy,” Pride In Protest said in its statement posted on Facebook

A GoFundMe campaign organised by DoHA to pay off the fines imposed on the protestors raised over $5,600 in a day. 

“Making Mardi Gras political again comes at a cost…The umpires who were arrested have been fined. We are seeking funds to help cover the costs of the action and any potential legal fees and the fines. Any additional funds raised will be redistributed, any money raised to campaigns for Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and prisoner advocacy groups,” the campaign page said. 

(Photos courtesy Facebook page of Pride In Protest).


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One response to “NSW Police Arrest, Fine Department of Homo Affairs Mardi Gras Protestors”

  1. YES, I will leave a reply to this one. Something MUST change.

    Having worked in the centre of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian community for 33 years I have enjoyed contact with many of Australia’s “ruling elite”, people in the know , politicians , business, media , and the autocracy. On one occasion I visited NSW Australian Democrats Senator Elizabeth Kirkby OAM ( who also played Lucy Sutcliffe in the ground breaking Number 96). I was seeking her help with a gay and lesbian parenting issue that had flared up at that time. After the MP had offered her advise and support, the Senator went on to warn me “..that she had seen some of the stuff coming down the pipeline for Gay and Lesbian People and that quite frankly – we were NOT going to like any of it ! ” Strange, I thought. No one inside the community was aware of any state moves against us all and against our community itself, nothing of that nature was on the community radar or the community media radar. Now in retrospect the Senators warning was sage and has been born out in truth. The point I am making is that while the public message from the state might say one thing, there are secret forces with the Australian state and there are secret policies driving a deeper agenda. In reality , without most of us realising it, those forces have acted ruthlessly to capture and transform our community for their own purposes and in their own view of the world , NOT OURS. Those forces do exist and demonstrably they can be deeply homophobic, Central to the Senators implied existence of secret policies against us are the Police, the church and the ultra right wing. They do not understand us gay and lesbian people nor do they want to, and yet they now set the rules and the culture of OUR exitance, but NOT in our interests, rather in their own interests. To be Gay or Lesbian in Australia in 2021 is to be a subject of a faceless police state. No less. That is the fact of the matter. Be warned that straight powerbrokers DO NOT think like Gay & Lesbian people do.

    Given this stinking fascist media arrest my advice is to tell the NT police to TAKE DOWN OUR FLAG IMMEDIATELY. To be quite honest we do not have any idea what they are up to. They operate in secret. Police can not be trusted to gay and lesbian trust standards, and never have the police avoided deplorable self interested mission creep. Never. Take our flag down please. This arrest demonstrates that we can not trust you.