The Premier of New South Wales (NSW) has signed an accord with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival to ensure better outcomes from policing during the festival after there were complaints of over-policing and police brutality at last year’s festival
‘Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras welcomes NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s announcement today of the signing of a new Mardi Gras Festival Accord, between Mardi Gras and NSW Police, aimed at ensuring a safe and welcoming experience for all participants and spectators at Mardi Gras events,’ organizers said in a statement.
Under the accord festival organizers and NSW Police will jointly plan to ensure a consistent approach to policing that is appropriate to the scale, risk, cultural sensitivities and visitation outcomes of the Mardi Gras Festival.
NSW Police and Mardi Gras will jointly plan and determine appropriate policing levels, approach and scale of operations based on assessment of the risks presented.
In return Police will ensure that enforcement occurs fairly, equitably and in accordance with appropriate standard operating procedures.
Under the accord Mardi Gras festival organizers and other community organizations, along with NSW Police, will work together to provide cultural sensitivity education and training on working with LGBTI communities to ensure the Mardi Gras Festival provides a great experience for all participants and visitors.
Temporary street barriers will be removed immediately after the parade finishes to allow Mardi Gras Party attendees to easily move towards the party at the Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park and assist parade spectators to easily disperse, after the Mardi Gras Parade ends.
Following the 2013 parade there were a number of incidents between police and spectators who had tried to cross the parade route to leave the area while the violent arrest of a spectator that charges were later dropped over went viral online.
Community organizations will continue to assist police to promote awareness and education so that NSW laws regarding alcohol and illegal drug use will be enforced fairly during the Mardi Gras Festival and NSW Police will maintain a drug detection presence where appropriate.
‘This Accord is important in that it symbolizes that the entire Mardi Gras Festival, not just the Parade, is significant across many dimensions,’ festival organizers said.
Organizers say the even drew nearly 30,000 visitors to Sydney in 2013 and are hoping for a similar turnout n 2014 with several gay cruise ships already docking in Sydney.
‘Mardi Gras is one of the most joyous and celebratory events on the NSW event calendar, with a global reputation as one of the world’s most welcoming celebrations of pride and diversity,’ organizers said.
‘While the investment that our government and corporate partners allow us to invest in developing the Parade and events, parties are still our primary fundraiser. A successful Party means a healthy organization, which means a strong Parade and Festival.
‘The community and visitors should feel confident that this announcement signifies a commitment that Mardi Gras, the Police and all agencies will work together to ensure that participants and visitors are well looked after, and made to feel safe and protected, and treated fairly and equitably.
‘The 2014 Sydney Mardi Gras Festival is shaping up to be bigger, better and more exciting than ever before. And with these new initiatives in place, Festival goers can rest easy knowing that the Festival will be looking after them every step of the way.’
The Mardi Gras Party is one of the principle fundraisers for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade and Festival.
For more information about Mardi Gras’ jam-packed calendar of summer events, head to www.mardigras.org.au
Gay Star News is the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ 2014 Global Media Supporter