Thousands upon thousands of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people have again shimmied up Sydney’s Oxford Street with their supporters in the name of respect, love and equality, cheered on by a wildly enthusiastic crowd.
The 38th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was a kaleidoscope of diversity, politics, family, community and sexuality, led by a contingent of Indigenous Australians together with veterans of the first protest march in 1978.
There were 185 floats and more than 12,000 participants. There were Dykes on Bikes, Asian Marching Boys, Tiwi Island Sistagirls, scouts, nurses, police, drag queens, queer Irish, queer students, public servants, politicians, parents, children, people with disability, lesbian choristers, gay wrestlers, gay campers, Samba dancers, Christians, Jews, Muslims, lawyers, atheists and more.
In amongst it all was the Australian Human Rights Commission with its float supporting the UN Free & Equal campaign. Commission president Gillian Triggs drew frequent applause as she danced to Everybody’s Free (to Feel Good), along with dozens of Commission staffers.
Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwin, National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell, Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow and the Victorian Gender and Sexuality Commissioner Ro Allen marched with Professor Triggs under the Human Rights Commission banner.
Commissioner McEwin and Auslan interpreter Natt Kull kept disability on the agenda. They signed to Everybody's Free and Commission staffers performed the chorus in unison, in Auslan.
ABC online reports the biggest cheers of the night were saved for the ‘78ers, the group of trailblazing lesbian and gays who initiated Sydney’s first Mardi Gras 39 years ago, urging their peers to come out of the bars and onto the streets to make themsleves visible and to protest discrimination.
The theme for this year's parade and festival was Creating Equality.
“The Australian Human Rights Commission marched in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to reaffirm the principle that all people are born free and equal,” said Commission president, Professor Triggs.
“The Commission has a longstanding commitment to protecting and promoting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. We will continue to work with LGBTI communities and individuals to eliminate discrimination and prejudice in all its forms.”
SBS live-streamed the Mardi Gras parade on YouTube; the Commission float appears at 1:40:44.
Photo: Gillian Triggs and the Commission's "Free & Equal" Mardi Gras float. Image by Matthew Syres.