Amazing scenes have played out on Sydney’s streets today as around 500 rallied in support of trans rights, defying the New South Wales government’s attempt to ban protests. Protesters poured out of bars and side streets to assemble at Taylor Square, on the border of Darlinghurst and Surry Hills, before rushing past police lines, taking over Oxford Street and marching to Hyde Park and around the Sydney CBD.
It was a massive middle finger to One Nation state leader Mark Latham and his attempts to erase any mention of trans or gender diverse people from schools. It was also a slap to the New South Wales government, the police and the Supreme Court, which on Friday ruled in favour of the protest ban. About a dozen protesters were arrested and fined, police following their recent pattern of targeting protest organisers and leaders.
Co-convener of Community Action for Rainbow Rights and member of Socialist Alternative, April Holcombe, who fronted the Supreme Court on Friday, said:
“The case yesterday proved what a farce the government’s protest ban is. While they open up the footy, bars and beaches to thousands, they single out our rallies and declare them unsafe, despite having to admit there have been zero cases of COVID spread at rallies. Today we demonstrated that nothing will stop us standing up for LGBTI rights and all the other causes we are fighting for, from Black Lives Matter to stopping uni cuts and climate destruction.”
Holcombe was detained and fined $1,000 for protesting.
Officers repeatedly tried to block protesters and aggressively shove them off the streets, causing a number of minor injuries. But the protesters kept moving and managed to outrun and outflank the police on a number of occasions. At one point, police kettled a group of 100 demonstrators and arrested anyone with a megaphone or deemed to be an organiser. This highlights the incredibly political and repressive nature of the protest ban and how police are making the most of it to try to crush dissent and persecute the left. But the protesters managed to break through the kettle.
Eleanor Morley, from the Restore the Right to Protest - Democracy is Essential campaign, was also arrested and fined $1,000 at the protest today. “Protests are how all our rights have been fought for and defended”, she said. “Yesterday the judge tried to say we could just write to our politicians instead, but that is laughable. The politicians don’t listen to reason, they only listen to their big business backers. We only get change when we build mass movements that force the issue. That’s what we did today.
“It is outrageous that on the same day the government announces that it is lifting the limits on spectators at horse racing carnivals to make way for the gambling industry, they continue to arrest and fine people for protesting. We demand that protests be exempted from the public health orders to restore our democratic right to protest.”
In defying police repression to march down Oxford Street and stand up for LGBTI rights, protesters stood in the proud tradition of the first Mardi Gras in 1978. On that day, the police attacked and brutally bashed protesters. But people also fought back, inspiring a generation to fight for gay liberation in Australia.
Today’s protest shows that, despite the degeneration of Mardi Gras into an apolitical corporate affair which even features nauseating pink-washing floats of the police, the latter remain a force for homophobic and transphobic oppression. But, like 1978, today might also inspire hundreds and hundreds to escalate the fight for liberation on every front.
“I’m exhausted”, declared West Australian Premier Mark McGowan when announcing his resignation at a press conference on 29 May. So too are the state’s 40,000 nurses, who, under McGowan’s government, have confronted daily staff shortages, declining real wages and attacks on their union.
Wildfires are tearing through the Canadian province of Alberta, the heart of Canada’s lucrative oil and gas industry. The images of orange and black skies from the thick smoke—which is now billowing across the US border, causing air quality warnings in several northern states—are dystopian yet familiar.
While most of us are being hit hard by the biggest cost of living crisis in a generation, Australia’s “big four” banks—Commonwealth, Westpac, ANZ and NAB—have had a record-breaking start to the financial year, posting a combined half-year profit of $17.1 billion. That’s a 19 percent increase from the equivalent period in 2021, and $1.3 billion more than the previous record of $15.8 billion in 2015.
“You’re just a performing fucking monkey”. A racist barb, and one of many pointed moments in Jacky, a Melbourne Theatre Company production currently playing at the Arts Centre. Jacky is about the politics of performing monkeys. It is about racism and exploitation, hypocrisy and resistance.
Academic workers at Rutgers University in New Jersey have achieved a stunning victory with a serious campaign of industrial action, centred on an open-ended strike. Their approach is a model for unionists in Australia.
NTEU Fightback, a rank-and-file union group of the National Tertiary Education Union at the University of Sydney, is calling on staff to vote No in the upcoming ballot on the proposed enterprise agreement. The campaign was launched at a forum on 25 May, attended by over 50 people. A members’ meeting on 13 June will consider the agreement. This week will probably be the first time that members are provided with a full list of proposed changes to our working conditions.