Pride WA- Let us march!
Pride WA- Let us march!
Perth’s Pride Parade, held annually on November 30th, was meant to be a celebration of thirty years of Pride. Marking the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Pride has always been a day to remember the historic struggles for LGBTI+ people, and to continue our fight today. However, Pride WA, the official organising body for the parade here in Perth, instead have morphed it into a celebration of corporate power in Western Australia. Rainbow Rebellion WA, Perth’s community activist group, this year called on its supporters to march with them in response and to celebrate the activist origins of the pride parade. We were met with intimidation and bullying from both organisers and police in an attempt to scare away young people who had come to march for the first time. Rainbow Rebellion are now calling for changes to Pride WA to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
This year, for the first time, Pride WA introduced an unfair and exclusionary wristband system to severely limit the number of people allowed to participate in the parade. Only people wearing branded Pride WA wristbands were supposed to march with floats and contingents of the parade this year, giving the organisers unprecedented power over the composition and messaging of the parade. Small, poorly funded community and activist groups who could not afford large sponsorships were given no more than twenty wristbands each, barely enough for their main organisers and activists, let alone any supporters who may have wanted to march with them. Pride WA’s corporate sponsor Woodside, on the other hand, was granted a massive float near the front of the parade, allowing a major polluter and all-round corporate criminal to pose as progressive and socially conscious.
Rainbow Rebellion WA (previously Equal Love WA), Perth’s community activist group, who have been organising protest campaigns for over a decade for LGBT+ rights including for equal marriage and against Scott Morrison’s religious exemptions laws, put out a call for supporters to join us on the march in response to these exclusionary rules. Our call was warmly embraced, with more than two hundred supporters joining us for the march and loud cheers from the onlooking crowds.
Despite this, our activists and organisers were repeatedly harassed by aggressive Pride WA officials and marshals. Verbal abuse, damage to sound equipment, attempted censorship, and intimidation were the least of it. Numerous young people, attending their first pride parade and eager to support Rainbow Rebellion’s message, were frightened away by this behaviour.
The pride parade should be for the community, not the massive companies making a profit out of pinkwashing and ruining the planet.
We the undersigned call on Pride WA’s organising committee to:
1) Immediately drop the wristband system and allow floats to organise as many of their own supporters and activists to march as want to join;
2) Issue a formal apology to the activist and community groups affected by their decisions;
3) Immediately drop corporate sponsor Woodside, to dissociate the pride parade from the state’s biggest climate vandal and fossil fuel extractor.