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Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Fortieth Anniversary

(Matter of Public Importance, 15 February 2018, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

By leave: I thank the member for Blue Mountains for bringing this matter of public importance to the attention of the House. Members may or may not know that the member for Blue Mountains is somewhat of a gay icon in her electorate. She has a particularly strong support base in the Pink Mountains—the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer [LGBTIQ] community in her electorate. They are very proud of the work that the member for Blue Mountains does in this House. This year is the fortieth anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. At this time we reflect on the heroism of those in 1978 who were simply marching for fairness, equality and ending discrimination, but were met with brutality and violence.

To the police, government agencies and the media those people, now known as the 78ers, had a stigma. Members will recall that this Chamber, led by the member for Coogee, delivered a formal apology to the 78ers. The Sydney Morning Herald also formally apologised for outing so many of them after a number of arrests. Tony Crandell from the New South Wales Police Force also issued an apology but we are still eagerly awaiting a formal apology from the NSW Police Force for the violence and brutality experienced by the 78ers.

The New South Wales Parliament has a strong association with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Clover Moore was first elected to this Parliament as the member for Bligh and was my predecessor as the member for Sydney. She was the first member of the Legislative Assembly to march in the Mardi Gras. Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile also often attended the Mardi Gras. He did not take part in the march, but stood on the side to watch.

Fred no longer comes to mardi gras, but Clover still comes, and I particularly look forward to marching again with her and with supporters. This year's mardi gras, as well as being the historic fortieth anniversary, is the first mardi gras in Australia with marriage equality. That will be a significant moment for our community, with people celebrating that historic achievement, which only came about because of the hard work of the 78ers and those before them. The Equality Campaign is looking forward to marching with members of all political parties this year.

Mardi gras involves the work of many people. I acknowledge the organisers, the volunteers, all the participants and the co-chairs of mardi gras, Kate Wickett and Brendan Bear. This is a very busy time for them. This will be a great mardi gras. As we know, Cher will perform at mardi gras this year. I look forward to joining the member for Coogee, the member for Newtown and any other members on the dance floor while Cher is performing. The room will largely be full of sweaty, shirtless men as we navigate our way through the dance floor. It is a wonderful time when people come together to acknowledge the heroism of the 78ers and celebrate the work that has been done—and the work that is still to be done in this place and in the Federal Parliament. I thank the member for Blue Mountains and wish everyone a happy Mardi Gras.


To read the speeches of other Members on the subject, click HERE