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Pride lobby pushes to ban police from LGBTI march because ‘people just don’t feel safe’

Neil Mitchell
Police marching surrounded by a crowd at the Midsumma Pride March in St Kilda

The Victorian Pride Lobby wants to ban uniformed police from taking part in this year’s Midsumma Pride March.

Police have been marching in the St Kilda event for 19 years, but Victorian Pride Lobby co-convener, Nevena Spirovska, says they won’t be welcome on Sunday.

The lobby has signed an open letter calling for police in uniform to be banned.

“Last year the Victoria Pride Lobby surveyed the community on this particular issue. We heard from over 1500 community members and the overwhelming majority of people support the view,” Ms Spirovska told Neil Mitchell.

“The fact is some people just don’t feel safe seeing police in uniform and that view needs to be respected as well.”

Ms Spirovska said the decision is “not excluding police from participating in the march forever”.

“We are just saying at this moment in time the community does not feel safe,” she said.

Press PLAY below to hear the Victorian Pride Lobby co-convener clash with Neil Mitchell over the issue

Deputy Commissioner Neil Paterson, who has marched in the parade for years, says the lobby’s view doesn’t match his experience.

“As a gay man I’m very, very well connected in the broader LGBTI community,” he told Neil Mitchell.

“I’m very aware of their opinions and overwhelmingly the vast majority of the LGBTI community absolutely love having police there.”

He says the move goes against everything the parade stands for.

“One of the hallmarks of pride is inclusivity — and it doesn’t feel inclusive,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner Patterson says he “absolutely” plans to march on the weekend.

Press PLAY below to hear why Deputy Commissioner Paterson plans to march + Neil’s thoughts on the issue

Image: Scott Barbour / Getty

Neil Mitchell