The theme for the 42nd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade was “What Matters”, and participants and spectators were out in full celebratory force on Saturday night for the festivities.
There were 200 groups and floats that made a splash in glitter and latex down Oxford Street, with over 12,000 people taking part in the parade.
On the sidelines were around 200,000 spectators cheering on the procession.
Following the recent bushfire crisis across Australia, the New South Rural Fire Service volunteers were greeted with a grand applause as their float appeared.
The parade kicked off with the First Nations float, preceded by a traditional smoking ceremony in the starting area.
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People with Disability Australia, RU OK?, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, Bushfire Heroes, Regional Australia, Qantas, ACON, Instagram and W Hotels with RuPaul’s Drag Race star Alyssa Edwards were some of the organisations behind the bright and glittery floats on the night.
“Last night was a dazzling display of diversity that brought together people from across the globe to celebrate what truly matters,” said Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger.“In total there were 191 floats, representing a spectacular cross section of the community and each bringing their own terrific twist to this year’s theme.
“This year we collectively reflected on a number of issues facing our community. From LGBTQI homelessness to the Australian bushfires and climate change, many of this year’s floats had a distinct point of view on the issues that matter most’.
“And of course, having Sam Smith and Dua Lipa join us on the parade route was a fittingly glittering finale to a truly unforgettable night.”
Three people were removed from the parade after it was believed they joined the procession without authorised registration.
“Earlier tonight, three people were removed from the Mardi Gras parade, following unauthorised entry,” stated NSW Police.
“NSW Police are disappointed with their actions, which did not comply with the conditions of the event or the spirit of the celebrations.”
The protesters, part of a queer activist grouped called the Department of Homo Affairs, appeared to be making a political statement towards Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
They carried signs condemning the Liberal Party and wore masks with the PM’s face.
This was the 42nd Mardi Gras parade since the protest march in 1978.
When protestors from the LGBTQI community gathered in Darlinghurst in inner-city Sydney for international gay celebrations in 1978, the night ended in police brutality and arrests.
It became a major civil rights milestone as people took to the streets in the months that followed to protest the arrests.
By April 1979 laws covering the arrests had been repealed, allowing for a peaceful Mardi Gras march that year. It would be five more years, however, before homosexuality was decriminalised in New South Wales.
The struggles of nearly half-century ago remain relevant today, reflected in issues such as the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, and the Religious Discrimination Bill. But LGBTQI Aussies are being heard. Darlinghurst is now a safe space. It’s where Australians gathered in 2017 to celebrate the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia, and it’s the place where the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras takes place.
All of HuffPost Australia’s 2020 Mardi Gras coverage can be found here.
- With additional reporting by Carly Williams.