Mardis Gras crowds take over Sydney streets in protest

·News Reporter
·3-min read

Thousands have marched in support of LGBTQI rights on Sydney’s Oxford Street ahead of the city’s Mardi Gras parade Saturday night.

The crowd, organised by activist group Pride in Protest, gathered on the streets on Saturday about 2pm.

"We're here, we're queer, we're fabulous, don't f*** with us,” they chanted as they marched.

The crowd marched to Sydney’s Hyde Park carrying what was purportedly the “largest trans pride flag” in Australia and a sign which read: “Stand up. Fight back”.

Others drew attention to asylum seekers on Nauru and the rights of sex workers.

Protesters march in support of LGBTQI rights on Oxford Street in Sydney.
Protesters march in support of LGBTQI rights on Sydney's Oxford Street ahead of Mardi Gras. Source: Getty Images

About 2000 people were in attendance, Nine News reported.

Activist Mark Gillespie told the crowd about the importance of protest as he remembered the march in Sydney in 1978 following New York’s Stonewall riots, in response to police brutality of the gay community.

The Stonewall riots came in response to a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, in New York, in 1968. It is considered to be one of the most crucial events in the gay liberation movement.

Protesters march during the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade along Oxford Street in Sydney, Australia.
About 2000 people marched but the crowd was well-behaved with no arrests. Source: Getty Images

“I remember that night when we busted through the cordon of police,” Mr Gillespie told the crowd, recalling the Sydney uprising.

“I remember what was fuelling us and I think it's fuelling you today – a desire for justice. 

"And I want to ask you, Have we got justice yet?" he asked the crowd, to which many shouted back: "No". 

NSW first as march granted exemption

The march was given the green light on Friday morning with NSW Health granting an exemption from the 500 person public gathering rule in place due to Covid-19.

It's the first such exemption granted in the state, with organisers trumpeting the decision as a victory for protest rights.

"This is a massive win for not only the right to protest but for the queer community to say that the fight against transphobia and homophobia cannot wait," Pride in Protest said in a statement.

Participants for the weekend's parade during a press conference ahead of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade at SCG in Sydney.
Participants at the Mardi Gras festival at a promo shoot outside the SCG on Friday. Source: Getty Images

Pride in Protest approached Health Minister Brad Hazzard for an exemption to the 500-person limit on public gatherings on Thursday afternoon.

Mr Hazzard had previously refused an exemption for an Invasion Day rally in Sydney in January.

He agreed to the exemption on Friday morning after the group agreed to enhanced contact tracing processes.

The festival, which normally takes place in Sydney’s inner-city eastern suburbs, has been relocated to the Sydney Cricket Ground this year.

About 10,000 people are expected to attend on Saturday night.

with AAP

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