Mardi Gras defends limited number of party tickets given to 78ers

The Mardi Gras party is always one of the biggest shindigs of the year. In 2018 as the community marks the 40th anniversary of the protest march that founded the event, and the achievement of marriage equality, the celebrations are likely to measure on the Richter scale.

The organisers of the event are facing criticism though for not providing enough support to the pioneers who paved the way for LGBTI rights in Australia.

Some of the ’78ers, those who took part in the historic protest march in Sydney that made Australian’s first big statement about LGBTI rights, are disappointed that Mardi Gras has only provided a limited number of tickets to the party to their group.

A online petition has been launched calling on the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to show some generosity to the older community members. A petition at calls on Mardi Gras to give all of the ’78ers free entry to the party.

The petition claims that only 20 free tickets have been given, alongside an additional 30 discounted tickets. With 160 people registered to join the ’78ers float in the parade, the current ticket allocation will see the ’78ers drawing a lottery to see who can go to the party. Critics say they should all be allowed in for free.

Since being launched just a little over 24 hours ago, the petition has drawn over 1,300 signatories.

A spokesperson for Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras told OUTinPerth that they were very supportive of the group and provided then with a great deal of assistance.

“Mardi Gras was built on the backs of those that came before us and that our history is our strength. We strive to celebrate the amazing community activists, leaders, creatives, staff and Boards, over four decades who have worked tirelessly for and within our community.” the spokesperson said.

Mardi Gras said they provide support for both the 78ers float in the parade, and a dedicated viewing space for those who just wanted to watch the proceedings.

“Each year Mardi Gras work hard to support our 78ers at events we produce ourselves. Mardi Gras provides up to $10,000 for the 78ers Float to lead the Parade up Oxford Street behind the First Nations float.

“For those wanting to be spectators, we also ensure a dedicated viewing space on the Parade Route with easy access to toilets as well as complimentary travel back to Central station after Parade.”

Mardi Gras said the amount of free tickets given was the same as previous years, and noted that on some occasions n the past, the free tickets had not been used.

“An allocation of 20 complimentary Party tickets is also offered each year to the 78ers, many of which have never been used.” the spokesperson said. “Complimentary lifetime Mardi Gras membership is available to all 78ers which gives access to members discounts for Mardi Gras events, including the Party and many other discount incentives.”

The organisation said it was committed to working closely with the 78ers and had launched many new initiatives for the group.

“This year, we have implemented even more initiatives, including a 78ers creative working group, to help form tighter bonds between Mardi Gras and 78ers that aim to better help us support, celebrate and champion their past, present and futures.

“Included in these initiatives are an additional 80 discounted tickets to Party at $45.00 per ticket on top of the annual allocation of complimentary tickets.

“Mardi Gras are also pleased to provide $5,000 towards 78ers experiencing financial hardship to help cover costs for travel across Australia to come to Mardi Gras for the 40th. Two things that have not been done in the history of Mardi Gras and something we hope to build on in the future.

“We are also pleased to support the 78ers activation at Fair Day and provide a dedicated marque for the group to share their important history with Fair Day visitors and invite them to provide a welcome message to the 70,000 attendees.” the spokesperson said.

This year’s part will also include a chill-out zone, a quieter space, where many older community members may feel more comfortable.

OIP Staff

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