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Orange Rainbow Festival investigation

April 13, 2024


There were numerous police officers supporting the Orange Rainbow Festival. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.


Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes


A group of locals are said to be considering lobbying NSW police commissioner, Karen Webb, over the appointment of an Orange police officer to investigate the recent Orange Rainbow Festival.


NSW Police told The Orange News Examiner they are “conducting inquiries into the activities of a stallholder at the festival”.


It is believed complaints have been made about a "vibrator race" held in wooden boxes on Saturday March 23, 2024, at the Robertson Park festival that followed a street parade.



A vibrator race box allegedly on display in Orange. Facebook.

A photo and video have been published online of vibrators and a box allegedly on display at the festival. The race consisted of multi-coloured vibrators vibrating their way down lanes within the boxes painted in rainbow colours.

It has been suggested the boxes were at a safe sex stall, but The Orange News Examiner has not been able to confirm this with Orange City Council or festival organisers. Comment has been sought.


Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

Christians and others, including councillors Kevin Duffy, Steve Peterson and Glenn Floyd, attempted without success to derail the first Orange Rainbow Festival by having council withdraw its support at the last minute. 


Despite the debates along the way, the multi-day festival went ahead, drawing large, happy crowds. 

In the wake of the festival the photo and video began circulating online, and generated willing debate between members of the community, some of whom thought it signalled the continued march of Western society into the abyss, and others who said sex was normal, and that a modestly proportioned vibrator wasn’t anything teenagers hadn’t seen or heard about before.



Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

“Wait until half these parents find out that a lot of schools teach high school students to put condoms on bananas!” wrote one, adding in a separate comment: “I’d rather teens in Orange race vibrators instead of stolen vehicles ...”


“It was a cucumber in my class!” was one reply.


“Pfft get over it. How dull,” wrote another.


One person - who promotes their Christian faith online - said in a Facebook discussion that the Rainbow Festival contained “disgraceful” elements including what he mistakenly described as “dildos”. 

“I heard there might be an enquiry [sic] into the festival real soon,” they predicted.


“Surely a law was breached, given they are adult toys,” wrote another.


Another poster, who directed people to read The Bible, described the vibrator race attraction as “disgusting” and "perverted".  





In a post they later deleted, which contained a serious criminal accusation we will not publish, they added: “As far as I’m concerned that is not welcome in this town … With this type of stuff going on it makes me sick. This matter should be referred to the police …”


They said they later removed the post after facing “some really hurtful comments”. They said they had noticed the festival “has really split out community and that’s sad”.

A response to this comment said: “The only thing that has split our community is … close[d] mindedness … you’re out there caring for the haters and homophobes that are making the lives of others harder …”


A number of local Christian ministers attended the Orange Rainbow Festival in support of the event.


Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

"They are not real Christians, because good Christian people would never carry on with the hateful speech they are saying," wrote another in the discussion.

In the wake of the so-called Good Vibrations Imbroglio, it is understood that complaints were made to Orange Police, who are obliged to investigate. 


One Christian who railed against the festival told The Orange News Examiner that the law around displaying vibrators was “ambiguous”.



A Facebook post from a vocal local Christian.

This refers to the NSW Crimes Act Section 578E (see full description below), which deals with ​​offences relating to advertising or displaying products “associated with sexual behaviour”.


The relevant section, says it is an offence to “exhibit or display any such products to a person who has not consented to or requested the exhibition or display, or in a manner so that they can be seen from outside the premises of the business by members of the public”.


It is not clear how a case would be made to suggest the general public was able to view the vibrators in the wooden box from outside the festival in Robertson Park. Or - given the festival was ticketed - that people mistakenly entered the vibrator race stall thinking they were at another event.

Much of the anger appeared to be based on hearsay, as none of those making the complaints on social media admitted to being at the festival.


The Christian activist said they had received multiple complaints from people about the alleged vibrator matter, and that they had advised them to contact police. 

 

“Why would council put themselves in that situation?” they asked. “We did raise those issues with them [before the festival].”



Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

On Saturday afternoon it emerged that a group was not satisfied with the police officer who had been appointed to investigate the matter, claiming they have worked as an LGBTQIA+ liaison officer during their career.  


The group is understood to be undertaking a letter writing campaign to the NSW police commissioner calling for a different officer to be appointed. 

It is not known if any data is kept on the success rate of members of the public lobbying the police commissioner to engage in caseload swapsies in such matters.


Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

CRIMES ACT 1900 - SECT 578E


Offences relating to advertising or displaying products associated with sexual behaviour


(1) This section applies to products (such as articles, compounds, preparations or devices, but not printed matter) that are primarily concerned with, or intended to be used in connection with, sexual behaviour.


(2) Any person who carries on, or who is engaged in, the business of selling or disposing of products to which this section applies must not--

(a) advertise, or cause another person to advertise, in any manner the nature of that business, or

(b) exhibit or display any such products--

(i) to a person who has not consented to or requested the exhibition or display, or

(ii) in a manner so that they can be seen from outside the premises of the business by members of the public.


Maximum penalty - in the case of an individual - 100 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months (or both), and in the case of a corporation - 200 penalty units.


(3) Nothing in this section makes it an offence for a person who carries on (or who is engaged in) the business of selling or disposing of products to which this section applies to advertise the nature of that business to a person who carries on (or who is engaged in) a business or profession that ordinarily involves selling or disposing of, or advising on or prescribing the use of, such products.


(4) This section does not apply--

(a) to any person who carries on (or who is engaged in) a business that sells or disposes of contraceptive devices or compounds (but not any other type of product to which this section applies), or

(b) to such persons, or classes of persons, as the Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette, specify for the purposes of this section.


(5) A person can rely on the exemption provided by subsection (4) (a) only if the contraceptive devices or compounds are not displayed or exhibited to public view in any window or entrance to the premises of the business.


(6) Proceedings for an offence under this section are to be dealt with summarily before the Local Court.


You can read more of our coverage of the Orange Rainbow Festival here.

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