(Matter of Public Importance, 23 February 2017, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
Tonight we speak in recognition of the significant contribution the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras makes to our City and our state and to welcome the festival and all it’s visitors on behalf of the New South Wales Parliament.
Mardi Gras began as a gay and lesbian rights protest on the 24th of June 1978. Thousands of LGBTI people and their supporters participated and although organisers got permission from police, this was later revoked and police violently broke up the march and unfairly arrested participants at a time when homophobia and discrimination were rife. Last year saw a formal and long overdue apology from the NSW Parliament to the 78’ers, as well as an acknowledgement for their work, and the work of many others, to champion the rights, equality and well-being of our states LGBTI citizens
This year’s theme is “creating equality” which is in keeping with the festival’s political roots. This is an especially timely theme, given the strength of the marriage equality and the support that exists for reform across the country and across parliaments.
I’ve been proud to be a part of the marriage equality movement for the past ten years, during that time we have seen public support double to 72% according pollster Crosby Textor, and also grow in our parliament from just Greens and Democrats to now leaders of all major political parties.
Plebiscite dead – voted down, numbers not changing, funds reallocated.
Senate Inquiry – consensus report, improvements to the governments draft legislation
For me the most inspiring part of the campaign is the local community campaigns that are happening right across the country – supported by the work of Australian Marriage Equality and Australians for Equality.
One campaign I would like to highlight is the one in the Gilmore electorate, lead by Dawn Hawkins. Positive, polite, and effective, council motions, thanks shelley and gareth – and in this year’s mardi gras it will be the first time we have an electorate based floa, sending a strong message to the federal member that Gilmore wants Ann Sudamalis to vote for marriage equality
From the local to the International, mardi gras brings many international vistors, I’m partilcarly looking forward to welcoming my friend Senator Ricardo Lara from Califoronia – Ricardo will join the equality campaign parade entry and will speak next Tuesday at politics in the pub style session with Former Premier Kristina keneally, AME’s Dr Shirleene Robinson, and the Equality campaigns Tiernan Brady.
The festival began last Friday and will continue until Sunday the 5th of March following the famous parade on the Saturday night. Over 80 events are scheduled including comedy, exhibitions, music, theatre, film, parties and community events.
I will march in the parade with my colleague Lord Mayor Clover Moore – who has been coming out for Mardi Gras for over 30 years and was the first member of the lesialtive assembly to march, now lots of politicans
We will take the opportunity to thank Sydney for its support for equality and LGBTI communities. Most people in Sydney support full equality of the law including removal of exemptions in discrimination law and marriage equality.
In the New South Wales Parliament, there is a strong and growing coalition of members from across the political divide working together to achieve equality and I acknowledge particularly my fellow members of the LGBTI Cross Party Working Group.
Mardi Gras sends a message of acceptance and celebration of LGBTI communities but it remains an important activist tool because the law continues to treat lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people as lesser citizens. We have achieved so much but we still have a long way to go.
With the Mardi Gras organisers, volunteers and participants I am committed to pushing for reforms that achieve full equality of the law.
I commend everyone on the Mardi Gras board for their hard work and commitment and on behalf of the Parliament, wish everyone a Happy Mardi Gras!
Contribution from other MP's HERE.
In reply: I thank the members for Coogee, Newtown, Summer Hill and Blacktown for their contributions and look forward to seeing all of them on parade day as we all march down Oxford Street together. I also thank the Speaker for her support for this matter of public importance and for her presence in the Chamber during the debate. The clear message from today is that the New South Wales Parliament will continue to work together to support Mardi Gras and to support the LGBTI community in this State. Let us hope that next Mardi Gras the theme can be that we can celebrate the achievement of marriage equality. Happy Mardi Gras.