Vic Police Confirmed It’ll Be At Melbourne Pride Despite Heavy Opposition From LGBTQIA+ Orgs

UPDATE: Victoria Police confirmed in its Town Hall with the LGBTQIA+ community that its officers would be taking part in Melbourne’s 2022 Pride parade.

Neil Paterson, Deputy Commissioner – Capability said in the meeting that objections towards police presence at Pride was “not a consistent view across all of the LGBTQ community” and that “we do have a genuine interest in being there”.

He also said that he was “really keen for our police to stay in uniform”.

Confusingly, Paterson initially said that police wouldn’t be marching but would be engaging “with the community” at Pride.

Later, his colleague clarified that “we’ll be walking instead of marching as such”: whatever that means.

They also said there won’t be anyone wearing “operational equipment”.

So for now – despite the objections – expect to see some sort of police presence at Melbourne Pride.

ORIGINAL: Victorian LGBTQIA+ charity Switchboard has officially taken a stance against cops at Melbourne’s 2022 Pride march.

In a statement obtained by PEDESTRIAN.TV, the organisation said that it “shares the concerns of many others regarding the proposed participation of Victoria Police marching in uniform in the 2022 Pride March”.

Switchboard’s statement has set the tone for the discomfort many LGBTQIA+ people feel about seeing an institution associated with sustained violence and discrimination at a celebration of freedom.

The org cited its work in providing “trauma-informed support” for marginalised LGBTQIA+ people as a reason why it was taking an official stance against cops at Pride.

It believes that “all members of our LGBTQIA+ communities have the inarguable right to march in an environment that feels welcoming and safe to them”.

However, it’s not asking for cops to be banned from attending Pride. It’s just asking them not to march in uniform or to carry weapons at the event.

The movement against cops at Pride has been longstanding given the history of police brutality against the LBTQIA+ community specifically and the sustained violence of police against minority groups more broadly.

“At the heart of the growing and highly contested discussions around police representation at Pride lies deeply entrenched trauma.

“We recognise the ongoing work by First Nations and LGBTQIA+ leaders, in partnership with police and government, to rectify a long history of police brutality, mistreatment and discrimination against marginalised communities,” Switchboard said in its statement.

“However … there is still a long journey of work and community healing ahead before we can consider a time where police participating in uniform might feel safe for all.”

Switchboard did acknowledge its work with former and current Victoria Police members. However, it also made clear its support for calls from First Nations organisations that Victoria police “meaningfully engage with, be accountable for and institute reforms to address historic and ongoing harms”.

The org’s response comes after a highly damning report in November which found that 3 in 5 LGBTQIA+ people don’t trust Victoria Police (colour me shocked).

Vic Police is also holding a Town Hall on Tuesday December 14 for LGBTQIA+ people, which will focus on:

  • “Key elements of transparency and accountability that the LGBTQIA+ community require [and/or] expect of Victoria Police.”
  • “Actions needed to improve community confidence and trust in Victoria Police.”
  • “Opportunities for engagement between police and LGBTQIA+ communities in the future.”

However, the event won’t be open to press and allegedly details of the event were only shared selectively.

This doesn’t seem like a great way to get an authentic understanding of the varied needs of the LGBTQIA+ community, if you ask me.