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NSW Police to march at Mardi Gras out of uniform

HANNA SLOAN

NSW POLICE will not officially participate in the Sydney Mardi Gras parade this year following the alleged murder of Sydney couple Jesse Baird and Luke Davies by a police officer on February 19.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb released a statement today saying an agreement had been reached with the Mardi Gras Board allowing NSW Police to march out of uniform.

“I am delighted that our LGBTQIA+ officers, as well as our other police who are allies and supporters, will be allowed to march this year as they have done for the past 20 years,” the statement read.

“The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is an important event on the NSW Police calendar and as Commissioner, I am committed to continuing to strengthen the relationship between my organisation and the LGBTQIA+ community.

“I thank the Mardi Gras Board for the cordial discussions over the past few days.”

Senior Constable Beau Lamarre-Condon was charged on Friday with the murder of Baird, whom he pursued romantically in 2023, and Davies in Baird’s Sydney home.

Lamarre-Condon handed himself into police on Friday morning following the disappearance of the young couple last Monday and the discovery of their belongings in a skip on Wednesday.

The disappearance and subsequent murder charges have led to the LGBTQIA+ community calling for NSW Police to be uninvited from Sydney’s Mardi Gras celebrations, with grassroots collective Pride in Protest releasing a petition demanding the NSW Police Force be disarmed and banned from Mardi Gras.

“Police officer Beau Lamarre has been charged with murdering gay couple Jesse Baird and Luke Davies,” the petition reads.

“Evidence suggests that Lamarre, who has previously been filmed tasering an Aboriginal man in the face while on duty, committed the murder using his NSW Police firearm.”

The petition went on to allege that NSW Police “regularly assault queer and trans people” and that gay former officers have reported “horrific homophobic bullying within the ranks of the police.”

Police involvement in Mardi Gras celebrations has long been a controversial topic due to the two institutions’ fraught history.

The first Sydney Mardi Gras parade took place in 1978 and was named Mardi Gras, a traditionally Catholic event, instead of Pride in an attempt to slip under the radar of NSW Police at a time where homosexuality was illegal.

A small group of gay and lesbian people called the Gay Solidarity Group organised a day of events, including a march and public meeting in the morning and a street parade at night, to promote gay and lesbian culture and make a stand against discrimination.

The police response to the event was one of brutality, with dozens of attendees violently beaten and arrested.

The Sydney Morning Herald published the names, addresses, and occupations of those arrested, an act the newspaper has since apologised for and acknowledged as having caused further suffering and discrimination.

Pride in Protest’s petition claimed that despite “vicious and ongoing violence”, NSW Police are a regular feature in the Sydney Mardi Gras parade, weapons and all.

“This week we have been given yet another devastating reminder that the police do not keep us safe – they do not protect us, but we must protect ourselves from them,” the petition read.

Pride in Protest has today posted on X (formerly Twitter), saying the LGBTQIA+ community has been “betrayed” by the Mardi Gras Board allowing officers to attend out of uniform.

“This is a backflip on the Mardi Gras Board’s previous decision to exclude NSW Police due to Senior Constable Beau Lamarre’s alleged murders of queer couple Jesse Baird and Luke Davies last week, and the queer community’s long-standing distrust of the police for the institution’s systemic racism, homophobia and violence,” the post read.

“NSW Police have spent the last few days embarking on a brutal media pressure campaign, undermining the queer community’s calls for police accountability and withdrawal from the parade.”

This comes as human remains were found in surfboard bags found on a property 200km southwest of Sydney during the search for Baird and Davies yesterday, 27 February.

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: New home for marine emergency services in Cairns and Leap year weddings break Brisbane records.

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