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Spectacular: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

Wed 9 Mar 2005 In: Events

What can one say after witnessing the extravaganza of the 2005 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras but that it was nothing short of spectacular. A crowd of almost half a million turned up on the balmy Saturday evening to be aroused by Foreplay, the pre-parade entertainment. Semi-naked bodies, glitter, feather boas, leather, stilettos and fishnet stockings all played a part in the continuing campaign for gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and queer rights. Australian Prime Minister John Howard was featured throughout the parade making an appearance as the serpent in Adam and Steve and Ada and Eve's Garden of Freedom as well as the betrothed to US President George Bush. Freedom, family, passion and joy were the main themes of this year's Mardi Gras which served to campaign for equality and social justice in a tradition that began in 1978 when gay and lesbian groups protested to decriminalise homosexuality in Australia. In 1984 homosexuality was no longer a crime even though age of consent and recognition of gay marriage is still an issue here. In over 80 countries homosexuality is still a crime, punishable by penalties ranging from imprisonment to death. This was highlighted by the Mardi Gras Freedom float of white, upon which was perched a luminous glitter covered being with butterfly wings gracefully fluttering forward as a beacon of hope, accompanied by flag bearers representing the countries where homosexuality is outlawed and their respective penalties. The parade began with the roaring Dykes on Bikes followed by the cleansing of the street with a traditional Aboriginal smoking ceremony welcoming both parade participants and spectators. The Chiefs-of-Parade were lesbian couple Vicki Harding, Jackie Braw and their daughter Brenna made famous when last year Australia's national broadcaster, the ABC, aired a segment on children's television programme Play School showing the couple taking Brenna to an amusement park. This brought to the fore the issue of gay parenting rights, adoption and access to invitro-fertilisation. The black leather, chains, handcuffs, whips and masques of subjugation highlighted the perversions of human rights and social justice on the Camp X-Rated float, which set up a scene of bondage in Guantanamo Bay ensuring the plight of Australian David Hicks, the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the treatment of refugees in Australian detention centres is not ignored or forgotten. The vibrant festivities continued on the two kilometre path starring divas of drag, dance troupes, religious groups, anti-religion groups, political parties, the working class, hippies, yuppies, health services, and various gay and lesbian organisations. Fireworks shot through the sky during the parade as the crowd cheered the procession. Tarone Van Niekerk - Photos, Monica Garriga - 9th March 2005    

Credit: Tarone Van Niekerk - Photos, Monica Garriga

First published: Wednesday, 9th March 2005 - 12:00pm

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