EXCLUSIVE: A gay man recently arrested at a gay festival in Melbourne for “booing” right-wing gays says he is planning to do it all again next year and is now inviting others to join him in his peaceful protest.
Late last month, local St Kilda resident and longtime queer rights activist, Tony Pitman, was arrested at the Midsumma Festival Parade after taking it upon himself to launch a one-man booing protest against a gay contingent from the Liberal Party.
Mr Pitman has previously told True Crime News Weekly that he was upset at the right-wing party’s “hypocrisy” in taking part in a march for queer rights so soon after forcing an unnecessary plebiscite survey upon the Australian public on the issue of same-sex marriage.
As True Crime News Weekly reported at the time, Mr Pitman was first gruffly spoken to by security guards at the event on Sunday, January 28 before a number of police officers came around and began questioning him. He was then arrested, taken in the back of a police divvy van before being finally released without charge outside South Melbourne police station.
However, the nasty undemocratic incident has not deterred Mr Pitman, with the activist now vowing not to just do it all again in under 12 months time, but to do so with an added chorus of boo-ers.
“It’s kind of surprising how simple booing can put so many people in such a state of consternation!” Mr Pitman told True Crime News Weekly.
“We’ll see what happens at the march next year.”
Mr Pitman says he is well within his rights to hold the planned protest, with a statement released by Midsumma following his arrest stating that it “supports and acknowledges the right for anyone” to undertake peaceful protests.
“I am therefore announcing, with one year’s notice, my intention to boo the Liberal Party contingent at next year’s Midsumma Pride March,” Mr Pitman said.
“More specifically, I intend to hire a megaphone and boo the Liberal Party contingent for the entire length of the Pride March, from the beginning to the end.
“I will walk alongside the Liberal Party marchers and peacefully express my political opinion all the way along Fitzroy Street.”
The gay rights activist said he will be reminding the march organisers, the Victoria Police and the media of his intentions several days before the parade next year.
“That way, everyone, including Midsumma security personnel, will be well-aware of my intentions and of my right to protest peacefully,” Mr Pitman said.
“I will also ask a friend to video the event, so that, should a ‘misunderstanding’ arise, there will be an audiovisual recording of the incident.”
Mr Pitman said he would be willing to call off his planned protest, but only on one condition.
“That is, if the Liberal Party amends its policies, both at the state and federal level, to unambiguously support LGBT rights and also apologizes for all its past efforts to hinder progress on LGBT rights and all the cruel and damaging statements made by its MPs over the last few decades,” he said.