By Charlie Murphy

Only a few days after withdrawing his Religious Freedoms Bill from the Senate, Scott Morrison was already on the campaign trail throwing his weight behind Senator Claire Chandler’s bill concerning trans people’s participation in sport.

Calling it a ‘terrific bill’, Scomo seemed to have seamlessly pivoted from attacking queer people on one front to another. If there should be any indication that the LNP’s DNA is homophobic and transphobic, and they want to flog it as hard as possible for the election, this is it.

The Power We Rely On Comes From Everyday People

The Labor Party, disappointingly, has either been absent at best or encouraging these legislative attacks at worst. In endorsing the religious Freedoms Bill they ‘umm’-ed and ‘ahh’-ed about communities and woke-washed the debate with a faux care for religious minorities. Caught up in electoral games, this year has demonstrated for us very strongly that the power that we rely on can only be that of everyday people, in our queer community and beyond.

For a second year, on the day of Mardi Gras, community members will be marching against such disgusting legislative attacks against us, after the 2021 Mardi Gras Rally faced and overcame negative pressure from the police (and a dis-endorsement by corporate Mardi Gras, for good measure).

The organisation of the daytime rally has been made possible by a coalition of 78ers and young activists from Pride in Protest and other groups, threading activism throughout the generations. What it seems has motivated many in this instance, like the rallies of 1978, was the dire need for queers to change the material conditions of their lives.

How Can We Not Take To The Streets?


2021 Pride in Protest Rally

Much ink has been spilled about whether Mardi Gras should be a party or a protest, ink which washes away when we actually ask the basic question: what do we currently need? How can we truly experience the abject state the Liberals want us to live in and not take to the streets?

It is not just our day-to-day oppression that we struggle against, but those communities around us and our intersections which cry out for justice too. At the same time that queers experience police violence, the ongoing deadly policing of Aboriginal people ended a young boy’s life in South Eveleigh a few days ago.

Our border system lets refugees languish in concentration camps, even as more seek asylum in Australia as climate change and war ravage the world. Sex workers are forced into unsafe situations due to criminalisation in different states in Australia. It is for these reasons we march on the day of Mardi Gras. 

There is a corporate interest in saying that our Pride festivals should just be our chance to have fun – fun is the engine of the tourist economy that feeds off Mardi Gras. And yes, we should have fun at Mardi Gras (I myself have had too much of it through the years). But the more insidious fun is one that wants you to actively deny that we still have fights to win and prefer escape to victory. This is the insidious fun that corporations would prefer you to have. Some may pay some lip service to protest, but ultimately the true protest is one that takes us to the streets without compromise until our lives and rights have been truly won by ourselves.

If you have that same burning passion, then we will see you on Oxford Street at 1pm, March 5th for the Mardi Gras Rally.

Charlie Murphy is a member of Pride in Protest.


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