NEWS
29/02/2020 9:18 PM AEDT | Updated 04/03/2020 11:55 PM AEDT

Mardi Gras 2020: Thousands Turn Out For Sydney Parade

A massive crowd lined the streets for the 42nd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.

Inclusion, equality and amplifying the voices of the marginalised underpinned the 42nd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2020 Parade on Saturday February 29.

There were 200 groups and floats that made a splash in glitter and latex down Oxford Street, with over 12,000 participants taking part in the parade. Meanwhile there were around 200,000 spectators also present to join the celebrations and cheer on the procession. 

In 2020 the theme was “What Matters”, with the First Nations float leading the parade.

SAEED KHAN via Getty Images
People participate in a motorcycle rally during the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in Sydney on February 29, 2020. 
James D. Morgan via Getty Images
Participants prepare before in Hyde Park ahead of the 2020 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on February 29, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. 
Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
Parade goers kiss during the 2020 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on February 29, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. 
James D. Morgan via Getty Images
Participants prepare before in Hyde Park ahead of the 2020 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on February 29, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. 
Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
Parade goers gather in Hyde Park during the 2020 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on February 29, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.
James D. Morgan via Getty Images
Participants prepare before in Hyde Park ahead of the 2020 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on February 29, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. 

Other organisations that hosted floats on the night included RU OK? W Hotels, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, Bushfire Heroes, Regional Australia and more. 

For the first time, SBS broadcast the parade live with presenters Narelda Jacobs, Joel Creasey, Courtney Act and Zoë Coombs Marr.

Politicians Penny Wong, Anthony Albanese and Kristina Keneally also attended, as did trans activist Georgie Stone and Indigenous TV star Brooke Blurton. 

International celebrities Sam SmithDua Lipa and Kesha were also part of the celebrations.

Sam Smith surprised members of LGBTQ organisation, Twenty10 when they joined their float that made its way down Oxford Street. 

Wearing a bold green patterned jacket over a laced top, Sam danced along while waving to spectators and posing for photographs. 

Brendon Thorne via Getty Images
Sam Smith celebrates during the 2020 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on February 29, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. 
Brendon Thorne via Getty Images
Dua Lipa poses for a photo during the 2020 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on February 29, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.

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.