Natalie Wolfe: Why police need to sit this Mardi Gras out

Natalie Wolfe
The Nightly
2 Min Read
A file photo of Constable Beau Lamarre taking part in the 2020 Mardi Gras parade in Sydney.
A file photo of Constable Beau Lamarre taking part in the 2020 Mardi Gras parade in Sydney. Credit: JAMES GOURLEY/AAPIMAGE

Do serving police officers deserve to march in Sydney’s Mardi Gras parade this year given the grief and anger our community is going through? The short answer is no.

The opportunity to march in the parade is a reward that must be earned and NSW Police has not earned it this year.

But punishing queer cops every time a member of the force targets someone from our community is also not the long-term answer.

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Seeing police officers in their uniforms marching down Oxford Street just days after the bodies of Luke Davies and Jesse Baird have been found will only compound the hurt being experienced at the moment.

Hurt allegedly instigated not only by a serving police officer, but a gay officer who walked in the Mardi Gras himself just a few years ago. The revelation his police-issued gun was allegedly used to murder the couple has not helped.

Nor have flippant comments from NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb or the fact that the force she now oversees spent decades ignoring the targeting, bashing and murdering of men from the gay community.

But the annual debate around whether police deserve to march is only punishing one group of people — queer police officers.

Visibility has always been the ultimate way to change hearts and minds, to change the culture in places that have long targeted us. Queer cops finding their community is something typically done on Mardi Gras weekend.

Which then helps them stand up when they’re out on calls or when one of their senior officers makes an off-handed joke about gay people in the station.

Visibility has always been the ultimate way to change hearts and minds.
Visibility has always been the ultimate way to change hearts and minds. Credit: Mark Baker/AP

Knowing they have queer allies at their back will give them the strength to do this.

Punishing queer cops every time someone in the force hurts our community is not the way forward.

Enough of the tokenism from police. Let this alleged horror be the catalyst for change and a real opportunity to show things are changing and that police are ready to stand with our community at all costs.

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