Gay lobby asks uniformed cops not to march in Pride Festival rally
The Queensland police force has promised to work with Brisbane Pride after the LGBTQI organisation asked that uniformed officers not march in its event next month.
The Queensland Police contingent at the Pride Festival Rally in Brisbane in 2017.. (AAP Image/Regi Varghese)
Brisbane Pride made the request ahead of Pride 2021 on October 24 amid concerns over rising homophobia in the force and the failure of police to apologise for historic wrongs.
The organisation says its concerns were raised earlier this year when a Facebook group for serving police officers was revealed to have homophobia, sexist and racist posts.
Commissioner Katarina Carroll said police were “disappointed” about the decision, but were committed to working with Brisbane Pride to work out the issues.
“I have a lot of people in my organisation that are part of the LGBTQI community, and they’re an important part of our organisation, police officers and staff, and them as well as us are very disappointed about this,” she told reporters.
“I would love to have marched, I obviously marched a few years ago in uniform, and we can march but they’ve asked that we don’t, so yes we are disappointed,” Carroll said.
“But I’ve met with the committee, and we’re working through issues and I have every confidence that we will work through the issues raised and hopefully this time next year you’ll see us there in uniform.”
Uniformed police officers have marched in Brisbane Pride since 2015, but organisers said last month they wanted it to stop until issues were addressed.
The Brisbane Pride Committee pointed to what the LGBTQI community “perceive as escalating levels of homophobia” from police, with the Facebook page particularly concerning.
The Defend the Blue Facebook page had 3600 members, The Australian reported in July, and was started a year ago by a senior police officer.
Carroll said at the time the page was started with “good intentions” including support for mental health issues and “general chatter among mates”, but it had taken a dark turn in recent months.
“This incident remains of great concern to us and the broader LGBTIQ+ community, not only in Brisbane but throughout Queensland,” the pride committee said in a statement in August.
The police commissioner said her understanding was that this year had been chosen to exclude police because there were “rumblings in that community” without mentioning the Facebook page.
The pride committee said although Queensland Parliament had apologised to the LGBTQI community for historic wrongs, the Queensland Police Service was still yet to do so.
Carroll said there were “past issues” but many current serving officers had nothing to do with it.
“So I think it is complex, we are working through it, but I’ve given a commitment that we will work through this over the next few months so that we don’t find ourselves in the same position next year,” she added.