Monday, April 15, 2024

A recent incident where a police officer is accused of killing a couple in Sydney has stirred up painful memories in the LGBTQ+ community

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A police officer in Sydney is accused of killing a young couple, adding a sad chapter to the troubled relationship between the police and the city’s LGBT+ community. The officer, Beaumont Lamarre-Condon, allegedly used his police gun to murder Jesse Baird and Luke Davies at Baird’s home. Their bodies were later found hidden in surf bags on a rural property. Lamarre-Condon reportedly rented a van to move the bodies and kept it a secret from detectives after his arrest. This incident has shocked the LGBT+ community, especially as the victims were supposed to attend the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, an annual celebration of their culture. Members of the community held a vigil for the victims, while nearby protesters expressed their anger toward police assigned to manage crowds before the parade.

Police mention Lamarre-Condon’s past relationship with Baird, a well-known TV host. People wonder how the constable passed police screening and returned a police gun after the alleged murders.

NSW Police Commissioner Kate Webb called it a “crime of passion” initially, then said sorry. She faced criticism for making light of the situation by referencing Taylor Swift. Later, she apologized again.

Before Mardi Gras, tension rose, and some opposed police involvement. Mardi Gras organizers initially withdrew their invitation for officers to march.

The Mardi Gras board said, “Our community needs space to grieve for Jesse and Luke.” A photo of the alleged killer marching in police uniform at the 2020 Mardi Gras circulated widely, adding to the distress.

After negotiations, Webb said police officers could march but not in uniform. She expressed delight for LGBTQIA+ officers and allies to march. Activists argue that Webb’s actions are performative and that little has been done to address historical issues.

Rough Start
For the last 20 years, LGBT+ officers and their friends have joined the Mardi Gras parade. Event organizers say it has created a good relationship between the NSW Police and the LGBTQIA+ community, helping us move towards a better future.

This friendship is a way to heal after a time of a lot of hate towards gay people. The police used to treat LGBT+ activists really badly six years before they stopped making gay sex illegal in NSW in 1984.

Back then, during the first Mardi Gras in 1978, the police attacked activists, beat them up, and arrested 53 people. Robert French, one of the ’78ers, says there has always been tension between the gay community and the police. He feels weird seeing police at the parade but then thinks, well, they started the problem, so I guess they can be here.

In 2016, the NSW Police Superintendent Tony Crandell said sorry to the ’78ers on behalf of the police. He admitted that back then, the relationship wasn’t good, but now it’s better.

History of ‘anti-LGBTQ+ hate’
Back in December, the government of New South Wales got a report about crimes targeting LGBTQ+ people. A team was set up to look into unsolved cases of 32 deaths that happened between 1970 and 2010.

The investigation focused on how the police treated the LGBTQ+ community. The report found that the police didn’t do a good job investigating hate crimes against gay people during those 40 years.

The person in charge of the investigation, Justice John Sackar, said that the police were careless and unfriendly towards victims and their families. Last Sunday, Police Commissioner Webb said sorry for not investigating those deaths properly between 1970 and 2010.

Webb said, “We won’t let the mistakes from the past decide our future.” But, even though he said sorry, the police haven’t officially agreed to any of the 15 suggestions Sackar gave in December.

Sackar suggested that the police should re-investigate some of the hate crime cases and also get training on treating LGBTQ+ people better. ’78er French believes that taking action on these issues is the only way for the police to make up with the LGBTQ+ community.

French said, “They always want control, don’t like criticism, and aren’t ready to face the LGBTQ+ community’s concerns, even though the inquiry forced them to do so.”

 

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