A group of Mardi Gras renegades who believe the annual parade has become too corporate and abandoned its political roots are set for a showdown with police.
A group of Mardi Gras renegades who believe the annual parade has become too corporate and abandoned its political roots are set for a showdown with police.

Mardi Gras showdown lands in court

A group of renegade Mardi Gras protesters are set for a court showdown after NSW Police moved to block a rally planned for the afternoon of the colourful annual march.

The globally beloved pride parade is this year being held at the Sydney Cricket Ground, with revellers set to circle around the stadium instead of marching up gay strip Oxford Street due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But split-off group Pride in Protest, who believe the parade has abandoned its radical roots and embraced a bland, corporate vision of LGBTQ rights, is determined to rally at the parade's traditional home.

More than 1000 people have clicked attending on Facebook for the group's planned protest at 2pm on Saturday at Taylor Square, Darlinghurst.

Now state police commissioner Mick Fuller has filed a summons in the Supreme Court in a bid to halt the protest that, if granted, would open protesters up to arrests and fines.

The annual march began as a protest in 1978, with the first marchers dubbed 78ers, before evolving into the large parade it is today. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts
The annual march began as a protest in 1978, with the first marchers dubbed 78ers, before evolving into the large parade it is today. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

During a brief court mention on Wednesday afternoon, a lawyer for Mr Fuller told Justice John Garling that the number of people slated to attend would contravene public health orders aimed at combating COVID-19.

Police intended to present evidence about health risks and emergency planning, the court was told.

Lawyer Andrew Wilson, representing Pride in Protest convener Toby Walmsley, said the group would present evidence about its COVID-19 safety plan and from a doctor with experience in public health.

He said Pride in Protest had notified police of the protest on February 25 and met with officers on March 1 before the application to hold an approved protest was refused after 9pm on Tuesday night.

According to court documents, the group's planned protest involved meeting at Taylor Square at 2pm before marching down Oxford Street to Hyde Park.

Approximately 10 "Dykes on Bikes" - a group of lesbian motorcyclists who traditionally open the parade - were to lead the procession.

Pride in Protest has advertised the rally as a "a Mardi Gras with no cops, no corporations, no conservatives".

Their demands include ending Aboriginal deaths in custody, abolishing the police, decriminalising sex work, legalising all drugs, and advancing transgender rights.

A hearing will take place at 10am on Friday.

Originally published as Mardi Gras showdown lands in court


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