Ahead of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on Saturday, March 5, the NSW Police Force on Friday said that they have launched a “highly visible operation” to keep the community safe. The police warned that anyone showing “anti-social and criminal behaviour” at Mardi Gras would be identified and removed. 

“For the LGBTIQA+ communities, Mardi Gras is a time of celebration and promoting a strong message of unity and inclusion,” Operation Commander and Assistant Commissioner Gelina Talbot said in a statement.

“The NSWPF supports LGBTIQA+ communities in that vision and we will work with the organisers to ensure an enjoyable and safe event, which upholds our important values of embracing diversity, respecting all people, promoting equality, and providing safety for all.”

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“Anyone who attends Mardi Gras and acts in a way that contradicts its celebratory spirit through anti-social or other criminal behaviour will be identified and removed by police for the safety of everyone,” said Talbot.

NSW Police Operation Necessary To Keep Community Safe, Says Mardi Gras CEO

For a second year, the annual Mardi Gras Parade will move out of Oxford Street and will be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground to comply with COVID-Safe rules. 

Singer-songwriter Darren Hayes heads the star line-up at the 2022 Mardi Gras, which will also have special performances from music legend Vanessa Amorosi, ARIA-nominated singer-songwriter Mo’Ju, Timothy Springs and Prinnie Stevens, and local DJs KILIMI, Charlie Villas and Division 4. 

 

Darren Hayes. Image: Supplied

“The operation that NSWPF undertakes each year for the Mardi Gras Parade is necessary to keep our communities safe,” said Sydney Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger. 

“We have worked with NSWPF for many years on developing a framework for working with our communities so that our LGBTQIA+ parade participants and spectators can celebrate on Parade night with the knowledge that they are safe and respected,” added Kruger. 

According to the NSW Police force, there will be a “strong presence” outside the SCG and in neighbourhoods like Oxford Street, Hyde Park, Moore Park and the public transport routes that connect to the areas. 

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For Operation Mardi Gras 2022, NSW Police said its “general duties officers will be assisted by specialist units, including the Public Order and Riot Squad, Operations Support Group, Dog and Mounted Unit, PolAir, Licensing Police, Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, and Police Transport Command.”

Police Arrests At Mardi Gras 2021

Mardi Gras Protest

File photo of Department of Homo Affairs protesting the presence of NSW Police contingent at the 2021 Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Last year, the NSW police arrested and fined four Department of Homo Affairs (DoHA) members who had staged a protest against the police contingent at the Sydney Lesbian and Gay Mardi Gras parade at SCG. Police presence at Pride events have been opposed by some groups, including DoHA and Pride In Protest.

There were also homophobic incidents reported after the parade in 2021. Homophobic horns targetted Mardi Gras revellers, including out gay ABC reporter Mark Reddie and his friends. The hoons threw eggs and in one case a bottle was thrown from a car towards a gay couple. 

The same night NSW police also arrested three men aged 29, 23 and 21 who were charged with assaulting two teenage girls at Pirrama Park, Pyrmont.

Use Public Transport To Get To Mardi Gras

Transport for NSW has advised Mardi Gras attendees to take public transport to get to the event.

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“Ticket holders are encouraged to leave the car at home and catch public transport with frequent light rail services and buses running to and from Moore Park for the parade to get you there and home again,” said Transport for NSW Executive Director Customer Journey Planning Adam Berry.

“If you have to drive, arrive early and allow plenty of extra travel time as traffic is expected to be heavier than usual and parking is limited around the SCG with closures on Driver Avenue outside the stadium.”

Police have asked the community to adhere to public health orders, including wearing masks on public transport.

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