FINALLY: Mardi Gras Is Banning Cops From Conducting ‘Public Decency Inspections’ At The Parade

Members of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras have voted to remove an agreement with police to conduct “decency inspections” on people marching in the parade.

About two-thirds of members approved a motion to remove the Police Accord that supported the inspections.

The accord was an agreement between Mardi Gras and New South Wales Police to carry out “a visual inspection of those intending to take part in the Mardi Gras Parade so as to ensure that public decency is not offended”. It meant a police officer was accompanied by a Mardi Gras official to carry out the checks and ensure people were complying the the law, and meant it was an official, not a police officer, who would be the first to approach anybody in breach.

The rule, set up in 2014, was controversial due to the queer community’s historic mistrust of police. It was set up in response to allegations of police brutality at the 2013 parade. Inspections involved a police officer and a Mardi Gras representative checking marches did not violate public nudity laws or display offensive material.

Queer community groups have welcomed the outcome. Riley Brooke, who ran for the board of the Pride in Protest group, said “it’s fantastic that members have supported tearing up the police accords.”

“The police as an institution – historically and to this day – enacts enormous violence upon not only the queer and trans community, but First Nations people, sex workers, poor people, disabled people and more,” they told the ABC.

“It’s disturbingly violent that Mardi Gras has invited police to conduct ‘decency checks’ … upon queer and trans people at Mardi Gras, and today the membership has said a resounding ‘no more’.”

A Mardi Gras spokesperson told the ABC that the inspections were “a general walk through to spot anything that may not fall in line with what’s required by law”.

“They are not individual searches or inspections of people. The Mardi Gras representative and Police representative go through this process together, not alone,” they said.

“By law Mardi Gras, as with any major event, is required to have a police operation. What the Accord does is allows Mardi Gras to have input into planning for a police presence, and it also ensures any policing activity is appropriate to the scale and risk of the event and within a culturally informed framework.”

Following the vote, the board must now consider the motion to remove the accord. It is unclear if any changes will be brought about before next year’s parade.