Sydney Mardi Gras comes to a halt as parade pays moving tribute to killed gay couple

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 02: A Parade goer stands in front of the QANTAS float ahead of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on March 02, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade began in 1978 as a march to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York and has been held every year since to promote awareness of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

    The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade came to a halt on Saturday (2 March) in a powerful act of remembrance for gay couple Jesse Baird and Luke Davies.

    The entire parade held a moment’s silence in memory of the pair, whose deaths have rocked the LGBTQ+ community in Australia, and beyond.

    The moving act was described as a “chance to collectively reflect on the lives of Jesse and Luke and to stand together in solidarity”.

    TV presenter Jesse Baird’s body was found alongside that of his boyfriend Luke Davies on 27 February. The pair were last seen alive on 19 February. Serving police officer Beaumont Lamarre-Condon, who reportedly once dated Baird, has been charged with their murders.  Police allege the killings were “of a domestic nature” rather than a “gay-hate crime”.

    The remains of Baird, who was 26, and 29-year-old Qantas flight attendant Davies were located inside two “surf bags” at a rural property in Bungonia, a small town about 115 miles from Sydney.

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    Image of two missing people: Jesse Baird and Luke Davies
    Jesse Baird (L) and Luke Davies (R) (jessebairddd/Instagram and NSW Police)

    Qantas dedicated its parade float in honour of former cabin crew member Davies, emblazoning his name on the side of a ‘plane’.

    Football team the Sydney Swans also paid tribute to the couple by wearing black armbands during the parade.

    An initial decision to bar officers from Sydney Mardi Gras due to the charges against Lamarre-Condon was partially overturned on February 28, with Commissioner Karen Webb confirming that the Mardi Gras oversight board had reversed its decision to bar officers from the parade completely.

    Sydney’s Mardi Gras parade has a complex history when it comes to police involvement – the first march in 1978 resulted in dozens of people being beaten and arrested by local officers.

    After the U-turn, police officers were allowed to join the Sydney Mardi Gras parade, but only in plain clothes.