Trouble at Pride

Melbourne Pride March was held up for was held up for seventeen minutes yesterday by a small band of radical young queers, objecting to “mainstreaming” of LGBTI culture, and the presence of corporate entities, such as banks, and the Victoria Police.

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The following reports and photos were taken from Facebook posts

“Basically protesters stood on one side with spectators towards the beginning of the march route and they sat down to blockade right when the NAB contingent arrived. They stood their ground for about 17 minutes holding a couple of banners, brief chanting, some wore bandannas over their faces. During their action the some people in the crowd were throwing objects, spitting, making comments about their appearance, some tried to confront them by taking their banners, some were throwing buckets of water and some other liquids, one used a fire extinguisher, some were making really nasty sexist and misogynist taunts at them, etc.

 

The police weren’t sure as to what to do, at some points they argued with protesters, some shoving, some yelling orders at them, some negotiation, eventually they changed their approach to protecting them from the crowd to some degree, and then escorted them out. March marshals along with the police managed to get the crowd to move back so that the parade could go around the protesters. At the end, the police took them to grey street, where they collected the details of some protesters and then escorted them up grey street for dispersal.”

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One of the protestors explained

“The aim was to show our strong dissent to the corporatisation of Mid Summer/Pride March, to say we won’t march with the police who frequently abuse us, we won’t let them exclude Queer sex workers, people with disabilities, people of colour, the transgender community and every other minority group within the Queer community. People need to realise that our people are dying and/or suffering. No to racism and misogyny and it can start in the Queer community who put this pile of shit together.

 

These people today took a stand at great risk to themselves. I’m absolutely disgusted with those who abused them and the cops can fuck off. Why did the cops not bloody do something to the misogynists? Absolutely disgusting.”

In another incident, anti-gay religious protestors threw urine at marchers

“So a friend of mine was participating in Pride March this afternoon, and the group he was part of were accosted by a religious group who spat on them and threw urine on them. The police apparently did a good job intervening.

 

I think it’s awfully sad that some people live in such fearful small worlds, with so little insight in to themselves and the world around them that they think they’re doing the right thing by such actions. Yes, the world is a big scary place, but it is also beautiful in its variety and complexity. I place a substantial chunk of blame at the feet of politicians and media commentators who exploit the vulnerable and whip up intolerance. Who turn “free expression” in to “the right to be a bigot”. What a small minded and hateful thing to do!

To those who were accosted, I applaud your actions in standing up and being counted, and I’m sorry it was marred but such sad little people. x”

The person who took these photos, said:

Bit of argy bargy at the pride march when queer anarchist types decided to do a bit of direct action. The response from people who probably agreed with them was poor to say the least.

The protestors have posted their own explanation here

Part of their statement says:

“Today at the Melbourne ‘Pride’ March, on Boon Wurrung land, a group of queer and transgender activists staged a peaceful sit-in with the aim of disrupting the march. We drew attention to the ties of ‘Pride’ with environmentally destructive and socially unjust corporations as well as police and political parties that institutionalise oppressive systems.

 

“This is a time to draw attention to the history of Pride. Significant moments in queer and trans history including the Stonewall riots led by trans women of colour, have involved disruption and direct action which has always been met with violence. In particular, the use of a hose invokes collective memories of state sanctioned police violence, except it was now conducted by participants in the pride ‘celebration’.”

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About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years.

“Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe.” (Daniel Witthaus, “Beyond Priscilla”, Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)