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Sydney Mardi Gras: Tribute Parade Honors Slain Couple

Australia’s annual Mardi Gras Pride event in Sydney observed a moment of silence a week following the tragic murder of a gay couple, marking a somber pause in the festivities. The victims, journalist Jesse Baird, 26, and Qantas flight attendant Luke Davies, 29, were discovered on Tuesday at a rural property outside Sydney. Beaumont Lamarre-Condon faces two charges of murder in connection with the incident.

Despite initial reluctance from Mardi Gras organizers to have a police presence at the event, plain-clothed officers were eventually permitted after discussions. During the parade on Saturday, a collective pause allowed participants to reflect on the lives lost and stand in solidarity with the victims.

The theme of this year’s parade, “Our Future,” underscores a reflection on the progress made by the LGBTQ+ community while acknowledging past struggles. Qantas, Davies’ former employer, paid homage to him on its parade float, honoring his memory as a former cabin crew member.

Gil Beckwith, CEO of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, emphasized the historical significance of the event, tracing back to the activism of the LGBTQ+ community and instances of police brutality dating back to the inaugural march in 1978. While uniformed police have been part of the parade for two decades, organizers made the decision to exclude officers this year to foster a safer environment for protest, celebration, and commemoration of those lost.

Authorities have stated that the killings were not motivated by hate against the LGBTQ+ community but rather characterized them as “of a domestic nature.” Lamarre-Condon, a senior constable with the New South Wales Police, was charged on February 23 with the murders of Davies and Baird, allegedly using his police-issued firearm. The 28-year-old, who had a previous relationship with Baird, has yet to enter a plea.

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