Thursday, March 04, 2010

Mardi Gras - Searches at Carnival

The Mardi Gras Parade was good fun on Saturday night. It is just a pity that the Carnival party afterwards wasn't.

I am not sure who decided not to open the gates until after 10pm (the first people who arrived off the parade must have been there by 9pm)

What was even more appalling was the patdown searches by ISEC Security on entry. Everyone was forced to have a pat down search.

When I questioned one of the security guards under which NSW Statue they were undertaking the search I was told "I am doing as I am told". The male security guard at least looked embarrased.

What was worrying is these patdowns were been done regardless of gender i.e. Male security guards were patting down women, etc.

Even more disturbing is that in reading online after the event is what I thought was the case Security Guards have no power of search as copied below the legal aid website.

  • Security guards
    Security guards have no more extra powers than ordinary citizens. They have no power to search or question you.

    A security guard cannot:

  • search you unless you agree (even when it is a condition of entry to a shop, etc);

  • arrest you unless they see you commit a crime;

  • detain you unless they see you commit a crime;

  • force you to sign anything;

  • force you to go anywhere unless they are detaining you until police arrive;

  • force you to be photographed; or

  • use excessive force.

    In some places, especially shopping centres, a security guard might ban you from coming in. They do this by giving you a "Termination of Licence" notice. If you get one of these notices it means you can be charged with trespassing the next time you go there.

    Usually, you would be asked to sign it. You cannot be forced to sign it. You should get legal advice.

  • I have emailed I-Sec Security but to date have only an email acknowledgement that says they will respond.

    I asked them two questions:

    a) Who authorised the mass search on Saturday night

    b) Under what law is this type of search authorised.

    I will update as I get a response.

    If not then I will contact Mardi Gras - which worrying have warnings about pat downs (they don't call them search which is what they are) on the Mardi Gras website.

    Don’t be afraid – policies have been developed to ensure patrons’ confidentiality. Security personnel are there to make Mardi Gras events fun and safe for everyone.
    Your co-operation will lead to a quick entrance to the party so have your belongings ready, you may encounter pat-downs and bag searches.

    I am still appalled at this mass pat down of patrons - it is an extremely worrying trend - ironically at other Mardi Gras events at venues such as the Opera House - where the same patrons would be present - no one was searched not even bags!

    Wednesday, March 03, 2010

    Guess what Mardi Gras is meant to be fun

    Two recent commentaries which question whether Sydney Mardi Gras is past its used by date and the comments which followed say a lot about what the authors perception of this event.

    In a column entitled, “Relics of another era: The winter Olympics and the mardi gras”, Tanveer Ahmed argues that both the Olympics and Sydney Mardi Gras are past their use by date.

    In it he says:

    “As for the gay mardi gras, what started as a fight for recognition and equality, with conservative society's outrage prosecuted at the end of a police baton, has lost its political core. It is now a mere tourist event, the equivalent of an orchestrated traditional native dance in the guise of aimless partying.”

    In other words we should stop any events which involve aimless partying e.g. New Year’s eve celebrations, Chinese New Year Celebrations, New Orleans Mardi Gras, etc.

    In another column – “Mardi Gras parades very little” - Helen Razer writes

    “In 1984, Patrick White was asked to lend his support to the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The nation's most dignified poof angrily declined. Even hopping mad, the great man of letters couldn't bear to end a sentence with a preposition. "A lot of screaming queens in Oxford Street will not help the cause for which we shall have to fight," he wrote. Imperfect grammar was a thing up with which he would not put.

    I am powerless to maintain White's deference to the rules of English. His disdain for Mardi Gras, however, is something I can easily replicate.”

    She goes on:

    “For a minute or two on Saturday, I watched Mardi Gras on the telly. And there was another inane drag queen vomiting her fluorescent words direct into the lap of the "straight" population. Here was a little monkey giving mum and dad their dependable dose of Gay. This qualifies as harmless fun only if the sum of our queer hope is to be yanked back into a Danny La Rue chorus line.”

    Well if she had bothered to watch she would have seen among other things

    ·        Sydney convicts – rugby team
    ·        The 100 Revs
    ·        Outworkers – GLBT Union members
    ·        Numerous sports groups
    ·        Clover Moore
    ·        The Greens
    ·        Mardi Gras Marching group
    ·        Plus of course numerous drag queens

    I am unsure why she hates drag queens so much but if you read the rest of the article she then claims that the GLBT communities discriminate against intersex and transgender people.

    What both are suggesting is that Mardi Gras has had its time and should be retired.

    I think what they are also trying to say is that Mardi Gras isn’t serious enough, is too focussed on fun, has too many drag queens, isn’t political, is too much been there and done that then it should be shut down.

    I don’t think however that reflects the wider community response based on the 10,000 participants, the thousands of spectators and unknown visitors to Sydney for the parade.

    And just when I thought that was it one more person who just can't stand Drag Queens in an column entitled Do you want Drag with that

    While their are issues with Mardi Gras - it's rejection of floats and control by sponsors - I don't personally see what the deal is with people getting upset over Drag Queens - however from a historical point of view their has been from a long split between the "normal" gay men and those who wish to push the queer envelope so it isn't surprising that this should continue into the 21st century. Of course we can't forget Drag Queens were at he frontline in Stonewall along with other marginalised groups.

    Oh well the comments on these articles make some of the best reading I have seen for a long time.