The 38th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade has concluded with landmark appearances by the Australian prime minister and the opposition leader.
More than 12,000 people marched down Oxford and Flinders Street with 175 floats including Muslims Against Homophobia, the People’s Republic of Mardi Gras and the NRL.
Both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten were in attendance as were Olympians, Paralympians and consular officials.
In a message of support in the Mardi Gras festival guide Turnbull said the event was a celebration of Australia’s diversity. “The hard work and commitment of Sydney’s LGBTQI community has seen this event grow to a festival drawing visitors to Sydney from around the world. However, we cannot forget the history of Mardi Gras and the ongoing need to promote inclusion and deliver equality for all Australians,” he said.
Mr Shorten said he was delighted to be attending Mardi Gras in support of marriage equality by marching in the parade.
Before the parade, Shorten addressed media and promised to bring a bill to parliament to legalise same-sex marriage within 100 days if his Labor party is elected.
“We’re on the cusp of achieving marriage equality and for me there’s never been a more exciting time to attend Mardi Gras for the first time,” he said.
“Mardi Gras is a fantastic celebration of LGBTI culture, and a powerful demonstration of the ongoing fight against discrimination.
“Marriage equality is a simple, overdue change to Australian law that could be made a reality today if Malcolm Turnbull would just grant his MPs a free vote.”
Mardi Gras CEO Michele Bauer said Mr Shorten’s participation was significant.
“It means a great deal,” Ms Bauer told Sky News on Saturday. “The fact that our issues are being taken seriously, the fact that we are being accepted fully into the community, that our voices are being listened to.”