Queer animal rights activists excluded from Mardi Gras Parade
- Published: 02 February 2010
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A group of gay, lesbian, bisexual, sex/gender diverse and queer (GLBSGDQ) people who support animal rights have been denied permission to take part in this year’s Mardi Gras Parade, writes Katrina Fox.
Animal Liberation NSW (ALNSW) – a Sydney-based charity – has taken part in the Parade for the past three years, and even been nominated for most creative float. According to ALNSW communications manager Lynda Stoner, at least 80% of the 90 participants who signed up to take part in the float identify as GLBSGDQ.
ALNSW submitted its application but was told it did not fit the criteria of being queer-oriented. I contacted Mardi Gras and was told that the Parade was becoming too long and taking too long to complete and ALNSW was one of 15 or 16 groups refused entry.
Fair enough, you may say, to exclude floats that don’t appear to have any relevance to the Parade’s queer theme. I then asked if ALNSW had emphasised the GLBSGDQ aspect of the float, would it have been permitted entry. I was told that it “would certainly be more relevant”.
So ALNSW then amended its application to reflect the queer aspect of the float and resubmitted it as Sydney Queers for Animal Rights. It was still denied entry.
Mardi Gras’ official line will no doubt me for reasons the organisation outlined above. However, the question begs whether other forces are at play that influenced Parade officials’ decision to exclude a large group of GLBSGDQ people who campaign for animal rights from taking part in the Parade.
Mardi Gras events that exploit animals
Take for instance two events that Mardi Gras is promoting – both of which involve exploiting animals. Dinner at Taronga Zoo is one. This is a fundraiser for the group Australian Marriage Equality.
There are many reasons why people – including queers – should not celebrate or support animals in confinement. This article goes into detail. Even open-plan zoos such as Taronga lead to animals going insane from boredom and being kept in unnatural environments and dying from insufficient or unnatural food or disease. Why would you raise money for a ‘good cause’ such as marriage equality at a venue whose sole purpose is to imprison non-humans?
The second event is the Pink Stiletto Racing Day at Royal Randwick Racecourse. Many GLBSGDQ people see ‘going to the races’ as a fun day out with big hats and big shoes. But see this site for why horse racing is no fun for the horses, which includes stats (with references) such as 89% of the horses at Royal Randwick have ulcers; 95% of racehorses have bleeding in their lungs and 18,000 Australian ex-racehorses are sent to the ‘knackers yard’ every year. Check out this video to see the ugly truth behind horse racing and this site on the horrors of jumps racing.
Commercial concerns v grassroots activism
Is Mardi Gras deliberately excluding queer animal rights activists from taking part in the Parade this year because two of the events it is championing involve cruelty and suffering to animals? It wouldn’t be the first time that commercial concerns rode roughshod over grassroots queer activities.
As far as I’m aware, no other queer group has been refused entry into the Parade (and if they have, that begs the question of why is any queer group being excluded from an event that began as a grassroots march for freedom?).
For all Mardi Gras’ posturing about inclusivity, the fact remains that a large group of GLBSGDQ people – Sydney Queers for Animal Rights – have been left out in the cold.