Community organisations thank Brisbane Pride Festival for uniformed police ban

Dozens of community members and groups have co-signed a statement thanking the Brisbane Pride Festival Committee for its decision to ask police not to march in uniform this year.

After lengthy debate, the committee made the controversial call in response to years of tension between police and LGBTIQ people.

Community group No Pride in Police said that they warmly welcomed the decision, agreeing with the committee’s acknowledgement that many in the LGBTIQ+, Sistergirl, and Brotherboy communities have been traumatised by the police. 

They also commended Pride on increasing event accessibility, introducing concession pricing, and diversifying its board. 

This year’s Pride Rally, March, and Fair Day have been postponed to Saturday 30 October due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings.

Systemic queerphobia

“We repeat our demands for a decommodified and decorporatised Pride,” said the No Pride in Police Collective in a statement. 

They asked that the ban go further by not allowing the police to march as a bloc in the Pride Rally and March, even without uniforms, and that Queensland Corrective Services also be requested not to march in uniform. 

The collective argued that queerphobia is an issue of not only individuals but the systems they represent.

“The core of these issues is systemic and institutional: when people put on a police uniform, they represent the organisation that has and does enact horrors without consequence,” they said.

They said that LGBTIQ+ police “have a duty to our community to recognise historical, current, and ongoing harm caused by police”.

“We believe that our community’s pride in recovering from a shared struggle is mutually exclusive with the pride of LGBTI+ police officers in their profession,” they said.

Minorities targeted by violence

The statement highlighted that the Queensland Police Service began as the Queensland Native Mounted Police, “a state-sanctioned terrorist organisation that waged genocide against First Nations people during the Frontier Wars”. 

“The massive Black Lives Matter protests and the ongoing deaths in custody protests demonstrate that this historical violence continues today,” said No Pride in Police.

Queer Kurnai/Gunai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri, and Yorta Yorta writer Nayuka Gorrie said that police represent violence to many Black people.

 “There is simply not enough space to list all the ways the police can inflict terror – targeting Black people, strip searches, abusing their partners at home, sharing the private information of women being abused with their abuser, removing children, bashing people, neglecting those they have injured,” said Gorrie. 

“For some, the police might be the answer if they have experienced violence. 

“But for many, they are the violence.”

The collective said that police continue to violently target sex workers, especially migrant, queer, disabled, and survival sex workers.

“We believe the police and correctional services are part of a racist and queerphobic structure of power that cannot be reformed,” they said. 

“We continue to stand for their abolition.

“Lest we forget that the Pride movement was founded by Black and Brown trans and gender nonconforming people, drag queens, sex workers, homeless street youth, and butches who rioted against relentless police raids one night at the Stonewall Bar in New York City.”

Pride without fear

The statement said that the collective’s opposition to the police in Pride is “not a fringe belief”. 

“We stand on the shoulders of LGBTI+ people across Australia who have fought to protect what Pride represents,” they said.

The collective thanked Brisbane Pride for “acknowledging and honouring those that feel distrust” towards the police. 

“We look forward to celebrating Pride without fear,” they said.

The No Pride in Police statement has been co-signed by individuals including Councillor for the Gabba Ward Jonathan Sri and State Member for South Brisbane Dr Amy McMahon, along with organisations including the Queensland Young Greens, Anti-Poverty Network Meanjin, and Refugee Solidarity Meanjin.

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