Statement from Albert Kruger, CEO, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras:
We have been made aware of an incident that took place on Saturday night’s Parade where one of our 78ers was ejected from the SCG by police for holding up a pro-Ukraine poster.
We are appalled and angry that this incident took place. The police officer involved did not follow protocol and had no right to act in this way.
The actions of these officers have not only violated the sacred space we create for self-expression, but it has also unravelled a lot of work that has gone into building a better relationship between the LGBTQIA+ community and NSW Police.
We share in the upset that our 78er felt at having been unjustly ejected by Police. We also share the community’s anger that something like this could happen in a place where our community should feel safe to express their views.
The spirit of protest is at the heart of Mardi Gras, and we take pride in providing a safe space for our community to share messages of love and protest.
We would like to express our deepest apologies to the 78er involved and extend that to all 78ers and the wider LGBTQIA+ community. The actions of these officers go against everything Mardi Gras stands for. We will not tolerate actions like this that jeopardize the safety of our community.
It’s our understanding that NSW Police is taking this incident seriously and have launched an internal investigation into the matter.
Every large-scale event in NSW is required by law to have a police presence, and as one of the largest gatherings in NSW, Mardi Gras is not exempt from this. We will continue working with NSW Police to implement more stringent protocols and operational systems to ensure something like this never happens again.
We’ve expressed these sentiments along with our severe disappointment to NSW Police.
*This statement has been updated on 21 March 2022 following conversations with the 78er involved to clarify that there was more than one police officer involved in the incident.