- Anthony Albanese has become Australia’s first sitting prime minister to take part in Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade – one of the biggest events of its kind in the world.
SYDNEY: Huge crowds packed the city’s Oxford Street as more than 12,000 participants and 200 floats passed by.
It is the first time the parade has been held in its traditional form since 2019 due to Covid restrictions.
“This is a celebration of modern Australia,” Mr Albanese said.
He added that it was “unfortunate” that he was the country’s first leader to march in the parade while in office.
“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.”
Penny Wong, the first openly gay female in Australia’s parliament, also took part in the celebrations.
The presence of the prime minister, who has marched in the parade in the past as an MP, was greeted with cheers but his critics have accused him of pandering to a minority that’s hijacking Australia’s social agenda.
Opposition MP, Barnaby Joyce, criticised Mr Albanese for attending a party instead of dealing with a crime crisis in Alice Springs – a remote town in Australia’s Northern Territory.
Mr Albanese wasn’t the only politician to attend Mardi Gras – members of other parties, including the Greens and Liberals, also came to show their support.
It’s not the first time an Australian prime minister has attended the event – Malcolm Turnbull was present in 2016 but did not march.
The Mardi Gras parade has been running since 1978 and grew out of a protest marking the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots – an uprising by members of the LGBT community in New York more than 50 years ago.
For the past two years the parade has been held as a seated event at the Sydney Cricket Ground due to the pandemic.
This year’s event coincides in Sydney with WorldPride, which promotes LGBTQ+ rights globally.
Other world leaders who have taken part in pride parades in the past include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his former New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern.
- BBC / News Agencies