STATEMENT ON THE DISRUPTION ON MELBOURNE PRIDE 2016
Today at the Melbourne ‘Pride’ March, on Boon Wurrung land, a group of queer and transgender activists staged a peaceful sit-in with the aim of disrupting the march. We drew attention to the ties of ‘Pride’ with environmentally destructive and socially unjust corporations as well as police and political parties that institutionalise oppressive systems.
Our group wanted to remind people that ‘Pride’ is not simply a celebration, but a protest fighting for liberation for everyone harmed by heteronormativity, cisnormativity, misogyny, ableism, racism and other forms of oppression.
Several onlookers – many of whom were drinking alcohol at the adjacent pub – violently assaulted us. They sprayed us with a hose, threw large buckets of dyed yellow water, threw glass bottles and some attempted to violently take a transgender flag. Victoria Police and some Pride attendees also assaulted a physically and visibly disabled person participating. Predictably, Victoria Police were reluctant to take action against the assaults until one of their own was hit with water.
People of colour whom are queer and transgender receive magnified racist violence from the police. There is no pride in a racist police state and police violence. Police are not welcome in ‘pride’ marches. We oppose the involvement of the police in the same way as we oppose the involvement of anti-queer corporations.
This is a time to draw attention to the history of Pride. Significant moments in queer and trans history including the Stonewall riots led by trans women of colour, have involved disruption and direct action which has always been met with violence. In particular, the use of a hose invokes collective memories of state sanctioned police violence, except it was now conducted by participants in the pride ‘celebration’.
We would like to take this moment to re-iterate why we were there:
We see corporations using the ‘LGBTQI+’ branding of ‘Pride’ to pinkwash (the use of support for mainstream ‘gay rights’ as a veil to excuse other behaviours) their oppressive practices. For example, multinational corporations like NAB and ANZ are peak funding bodies for fossil fuels worldwide. AGL, a key sponsor of Midsumma, invests in fossil fuels causing dangerous climate change. They are all complicit in the ecocide of land and genocide of First Nations peoples.
Jetstar, part of the Qantas network, is involved in forcibly deporting asylum seekers, some of whom are queer and gender diverse. There is no pride in deportations. Many of these people are being deported to countries in which homosexuality is criminalised, and may face violence and long term imprisonment of up to fourteen years as a result of their sexuality. With other corporations such as Coles, pinkwashing covers over their consistent hyper-exploitation of workers in their supply chain, which particularly affects the poorest black and brown queer and transgender people.
The ‘Pride’ parade’s championing of state-sanctioned marriage ignores the history of queer resistance to the patriarchal institution of marriage. Marriage does not help the most marginalised queer and trans people who need good housing and welfare support in a homophobic and transphobic society.
Current pathology healthcare cuts introduced by the federal liberal government particularly affect poor trans people who need blood tests for hormones, amongst other requirements. We demand free healthcare and liveable support for everyone.
We ask, “What is the Melbourne ‘Pride’ March for?” And for whom? What occurred at Melbourne ‘Pride’ March 2016 was a disgraceful display of violence and oppression directed towards queer and transgender people who were protesting corporate, police and conservative political party co-optation of an event that was meant to be about collective liberation from oppression.