Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras To Formally Not Invite Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull To 2017 Parade


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It’s one of the biggest events in Australia and this year Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was the guest of honour, shaking hands with some in the 200,000 strong crowd and snapping smiling selfies.

But he might want to reconsider coming back with Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on Saturday voting to publicly un invite him from 2017’s festivities.

Supporters of the move said Turnbull’s attendance amounted to a “fake friendship” given the Government’s refusal to hold a parliamentary vote on marriage equality.

But critics, including many on the current Mardi Gras board, said effectively barring the Prime Minister from attending — who has long personally supported marriage equality — was divisive. At the meeting where the vote was held, a former Mardi Gras chair was even heard to say the organisation had been “hijacked” by left wing activists.

Turnbull’s electorate of Wentworth includes much of the Mardi Gras parade route which winds its way from Sydney’s CBD and through the traditional gay enclave of Darlinghurst. Although he has attended for several years, in March he made history by becoming the first sitting prime minister to visit the event.

However, Turnbull’s continued backing of a non-binding public vote on same sex marriage, a policy inherited from former PM Tony Abbott, has caused consternation in the LGBTI community.

Last week, Labor jointed forces with the minor parties in the senate to block the legislation for a plebiscite saying a public vote could unleash a wave of hate at LGBTI people. The Turnbull Government has said the issue is now off the table.

In October, Mardi Gras board member James Brechney told a pro-gay marriage rally in Sydney organised by activist group Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) that Turnbull should be uninvited from next March’s parade due to his plebiscite plan. The move led him to being formally censured by other board members.

At today’s Mardi Gras annual general meeting, held in the Sydney inner city suburb of Surry Hills, CAAH co-convener Cat Rose again raised the question. “We don’t need your phony relationships, we don’t need you photobombing Mardi Gras, we don’t need your fake friendship,” she said in words directed towards Malcolm Turnbull.

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Waiting for the Mardi Gras Parade

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The Prime Minister, Ms Rose said, has pandered to right wing MPs by sticking to his plebiscite plans.
“This guy has been nothing but a conduit to homophobes.” Allowing Turnbull to turn up would amount to “pink washing”, she said.

By a majority of just 12 members, the motion to publicly state Turnbull was no longer an “official guest” of the organisation was passed — to the consternation of some members. Mardi Gras Co-chair Greg Small, along with many on the board, voted against the proposal and questioned whether the constitution even allowed it to be raised.

Even those barracking for the ban conceded there was no way Mardi Gras could ban Turnbull from the event as a whole, only from the managed VIP area. Mardi Gras not officially responded to the membership’s decision and refused to answer questions from

A number of marriage equality supporters said they were disappointed that the welcome mat had been ripped from beneath Turnbull’s feet.

Alex Greenwich, the state MP for Sydney and head of Australian Marriage Equality, took to Twitter on Saturday. “Having been part of a number of successful campaigns for LGBTI rights … it’s best to invite and engage, not attack,” he wrote.

While the spokesman for the anti-gay marriage Australian Christina Lobby, Lyle Shelton, mocked those who voted to bar Turnbull. “The love, tolerance and democratic spirit of these people is something,” he Tweeted.
However, Mardi Gras board member Mr Brechney, told he was thrilled by the vote against Turnbull.

“It’s clear the members feel a canape in the VIP area is pushing the relationship this time around. A lot of us having been fighting for equality for a long time and it’s time some of the platitudes halt until we see some action in Parliament.”

However, it has emerged Turnbull was not invited by Mardi Gras to attend the parade in 2016 but rather was a guest of broadcaster SBS who televise the event.

While Mardi Gras can ban Turnbull from having “a canape in the VIP area” he could still attend the parade and even march alongside the Liberal party float. This year both Labour leader Bill Shorten and the Greens Richard di Natale marched the entire Mardi Gras route.

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