27 February 2024

Police welcome to march in Wagga Mardi Gras parade

| Chris Roe
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NSW Police will not be excluded from marching in the 2024 Wagga Mardi Gras Parade. Photo: Supplied.

The Wagga Wagga Mardi Gras Festival Committee has responded with compassion and inclusivity in the wake of Sydney Mardi Gras’ decision to ‘uninvite’ the NSW Police from this year’s parade.

Police will not be excluded from the upcoming Wagga Pride event on March 9, despite the controversial announcement from the Sydney event organisers.

The Sydney Mardi Gras board made its decision after the alleged murders of Sydney couple Jesse Baird and Luke Davies.

Senior Constable Beau Lamarre-Condon, believed to be a former partner of Mr Baird, was arrested and charged in connection with the case.

“Our community needs space to grieve the loss of Jesse and Luke who, before this tragedy, would have been here celebrating with us at the festival,” they explained in a statement on Monday night.

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The group ‘Pride in Protest’ was outspoken in its call for the NSW Police to be banned and launched a petition.

“Mardi Gras began as a protest against police violence towards our community. The violence has not ended, and so our protest can’t, either,” it declared.

By contrast, Wagga’s Mardi Gras Festival Committee expressed grief and solidarity but acknowledged the positive relationships that exist between police and the community.

“The Wagga Wagga Mardi Gras Festival extends its love and support to everyone in the community affected by the recent tragic events in Sydney,” they said in a statement today (27 February).

“We believe this is a time to hold each other close and continue to work together towards a society where all people are free to live and love in peace.

“The Wagga Wagga Mardi Gras Festival has a supportive relationship with local police, who will be joining us as we parade down Baylis Street on 9 March to show our community we are here, we are united, and we are loved.”

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The exclusion of officers from the Sydney parade was met with disappointment by NSW Police and Premier Chris Minns expressed hope that an accommodation would be reached.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb met with the board and described the meeting as “fruitful” and warned that “shutting the door” on police officers who are also members of the LGBTQIA+ community “would set us backward”.

“I would hate to see that this is the year that we are excluded because of the actions of one person that is not gay-hate related. This is a crime of passion, we will allege,” Ms Webb said in a media conference on Monday.

“It is domestic related, we allege, and that would be a real travesty for this organisation to be excluded.”

The board acknowledged that many in the force, including Senior Constable Beau Lamarre-Condon, are members of the LGBTQIA+ community but remained conflicted over uniformed officer’s place in an event rooted in protest.

The Sydney Mardi Gras will take place on Saturday night with the theme “Our Future…”

The Wagga Wagga Mardi Gras will be held on 9th March.

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