History was made on Saturday, February 25, as Anthony Albanese became the first sitting Australian Prime Minister to ever march in the Mardi Gras parade. Hosted in Sydney, the event is one of the biggest LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations in the world.
Albanese was one of several politicians to partake in the festivities, with New South Wales opposition leader Chris Minns, federal MP for Sydney Tanya Plibersek and the first openly lesbian member of Australia’s parliament Penny Wong, also taking part. They joined over 12,000 other marchers and 200 floats along the parade route through the city’s Oxford Street, where huge crowds watched and cheered in jubilation.
Taking to Twitter following the historic moment, the Australian Prime Minister wrote: “When the first Mardi Gras march was held in 1978, you could still be arrested for being gay.
“In the decades since, people dedicated their lives toward the campaign for equality,” he continued.
Albanese explained that he has been “proudly marching” in Mardi Gras since the ‘80s, and he is “honoured to be the first Prime Minister to join the march,” having assumed office in May 2022.
To be accepted as equal and recognised for who they are and who they love.
I’ve been proudly marching in Mardi Gras since the 80s. This year I’m honoured to be the first Prime Minister to join the march. pic.twitter.com/npDOyQJVzi
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) February 25, 2023
“People want to see that their government is inclusive and represents everyone no matter who they love, no matter what their identity, no matter where they live,” he told reporters.
This was Sydney’s first Mardi Gras since 2019, with cancellations occurring in previous years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Saturday’s parade was, however, temporarily halted, as Senator Lidia Thorpe lay down in front of a float on Oxford Street, blocking it from proceeding.
The woman was promptly approached by two police officers, and later escorted from the event at the request of organisers. She was participating with the No Pride in Genocide float, spearheaded by Pride in Protest.
Thorpe’s demonstration at Mardi Gras appeared to be in protest to police presence at the parade, as she later tweeted, “Black and brown trans women started the first pride march as a protest against police violence. Today, we still face violence from police… #NoCopsInPride”.
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