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Beyond this, Sydney’s Mardi Gras was broadcasted on SBS 2, reaching a combined metro and regional audience of 205,000. Meanwhile, Melbourne’s 19th year for Pride March saw 40,000 people take part, in about 40 degree heat, with an estimated 5,000 marching. Gay Pride marches are an increasingly important part of Australia’s history, and for good reason. Despite much criticism heavily weighing now on Sydney’s Mardi Gras, with mainstream media often berating the hard partying aspect to the event, it’s as important now as it was when it began 36 years ago with the 78ers.

Casting this backdrop against the march of 1978, the word ‘pride’ takes on an incredibly potent meaning. While today’s marches are infused with celebrity and gossip, costume competitions, music, drinking, ever more expensive tickets and clubbing, they’re no less important. Celebrating those who fought for the right to even celebrate their identity on the street, most would be hard pushed to

look on today’s hundreds of thousands of participants with much more than astonishment. The world is truly a different place. And yet it has not entirely changed. In the lead up to Pride March and Mardi Gras, February was the month of the winter Olympics, held in Sochi. The strange divide between what was soon to happen on the streets of Australia, against the anti-gay laws that had just been brought in to Russia, was a bleak reminder that while many countries have come a long way we still have far to go. Just last year, the first ever successful pride march in Russia’s neighbouring country of Ukraine was held, KyivPride 2013, hosted by Amnesty International. There were

AM-UNITY MAG EDITION 2

The fact remains that the world is a vastly different place now than it was in 1978. When the several hundred 78ers marched, as a somewhat informal part of the Gay Solidarity Celebrations worldwide, it was 10 o’clock at night on Saturday 24th June. Homosexuality was still illegal in New South Wales, and many donned costumes for the events to disguise their identities. They were met with police violence, with 53 arrested, and some beaten. In 1979, 3,000 people marched with no incidences. In 1980, they then introduced the after party, and in 1981 they moved the event earlier in the year for the weather. Clearly, this isn’t always successful – 2013 rained as well – but it seems not to dampen any spirits.

emerged. Western Australians and Queenslanders were waiting until 1990, while Tasmania only rectified their laws in 1997. Incredibly, this actually means that unless you are seven years old or younger, the changes have occurred in your lifetime. In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ survey, 20,0635,80 residents lived through this final change.

In 1978, male homosexuality had been legal for just three years in South Australia, and two in ACT. In another three years, Victoria would change the laws to allow for homosexuality. In New South Wales and the Northern Territory, it would be around six years until decriminalisation 21

Profile for AM-UNITY Magazine

Edition 2  

This edition of AM-UNITY Magazine sees a focus on Refugee/Asylum Seeker Rights, Afghan Women’s Rights and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgende...

Edition 2  

This edition of AM-UNITY Magazine sees a focus on Refugee/Asylum Seeker Rights, Afghan Women’s Rights and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgende...