UMSU Queer Department Pulls Out of Midsumma Pride March

The UMSU Queer Department has announced that they will no longer attend the Midsumma Festival Pride March.


Content warning: racism, police brutality, Indigenous deaths in custody, self-harm.


The UMSU Queer Department has announced that they will no longer attend the Midsumma Festival Pride March.

The decision was reached as multiple groups such as the police and other private incarceration groups would be present at the event.

“We understand that many students will be disappointed by our decision,” UMSU Queer Officers Rook Davis and Rose Power said in a statement.

“Midsumma is typically a great way to express and celebrate queerness and we were excited to represent the university’s LGBTQIA+ community at such a large event.

“However, we wouldn’t truly be representing everyone if we tolerated the presence of organisations that actively harm and impinge on the rights and dignity of marginalised people, especially people of colour.”

One such company highlighted was Serco, a British based company which operates several Australian prisons, including Australia’s largest Acadia Prison, and oversees operations on various immigration detention centres such as the one on Christmas Island. Numerous reports of protests, riots, instances of self-harm, and deaths in the facility have plagued the company for years. These claims are not unique to Australia. Serco has been accused of covering up sexual abuse and labour violations of immigrant detainees in England.

UMSU Queer also note that, as of December 2021, 500 First Nations people have died within police custody in the past thirty years, making up twenty-two per cent of all custody deaths in that time. Thirty per cent of all incarcerated people are Indigenous, despite making up only three per cent of the population.

Victorian police have historically been perceived as oppressive and violent towards the LGBTQIA+ community. According to a survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, only fifty-six per cent of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people trust the police, opposed to eighty-two per cent of heterosexual people. Additionally, a 2020 survey conducted by the Victorian Pride Lobby found that 3 in 4 respondents believed that Victoria Police should not march in uniform.

“The idea that the organisations responsible for such injustices are welcomed and included in the LGBTQIA+ community is frankly disgusting and we cannot excuse it,” concluded UMSU Queer.

They ended their statement by asking all to sign an open letter calling for Midsumma to exclude police at the festival, which can be found here.


Image supplied by the University of Melbourne.

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