Sydney celebrates ‘What Matters’ at the 2020 Mardi Gras

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade took place last night, bringing together an estimated 300,000 spectators who lined the streets, balconies and rooftops of Oxford Street to cheer on the 12,600 marchers taking part in the world’s biggest celebration of the LGBTQI community.

The parade began with a traditional Aboriginal smoking ceremony and the first floats in the parade included the traditional parade leaders the Dykes on Bikes, First Australians and the original protesters, the 78ers.

Mardi Gras’ 2020 theme was ‘What Matters’, organisers describe it has a motif that built on the legacy of Mardi Gras as a platform for activism and encouraged the public to examine what can be done to build an even more inclusive future.

Many of the floats in the Parade used the theme as a call to action, choosing to showcase a diverse array of important issues facing the community.

Reflecting on the Parade, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger said the event showcased the diversity in the community.

“Last night was a dazzling display of diversity that brought together people from across the globe to celebrate what truly matters.”

“In total there were 191 floats, representing a spectacular cross section of the community and each bringing their own terrific twist to this year’s theme.

“This year we collectively reflected on a number of issues facing our community. From LGBTQI homelessness to the Australian bushfires and climate change, many of this year’s floats had a distinct point of view on the issues that matter most.” Kruger said.

Musicians Sam Smith and Dua Lipa, who were headline performers for the official party, also took part in the parade.

The world of politics was also represented with Rainbow Labor’s flat being lead by Opposition leader Anthony Albanese, who marched alongside the party’s leadership team including Penny Wong, Richard Marles and Kristina Keneally.

The Greens party was also represented and The City of Sydney’s float saw Mayor Clover Moore and Councillor Alex Greenwich appearing in a convertible.

There was also a protest during the parade as demonstrators blocked the Liberal Party’s float. Three protesters interrupted the parade, two were wearing uniforms describing them as being from the ‘Department of Homo Affairs’ while a third wore a mask depicting them as Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

They held slogans saying “Turn Back Their Float” in protest to the government’s border control policies. NSW Police issued a statement saying three people had been ejected from the parade for unauthorised entry.

Police said they were “disappointed” with the actions of the Department of Homo Affairs saying they were not within the spirit of the celebration.

“NSW Police are disappointed with their actions, which did not comply with the conditions of the event or the spirit of the celebrations.” NSW Police posted to their official Twitter account.

Many people on social media have highlighted that the very first parade was a political protest, and ended with multiple people being violently assaulted by police.

Following the parade 12,000 revelers kept the celebration going at the iconic Mardi Gras After Party, which took over Hordern Pavilion and surrounding venues until 8am.

Artists who performed at the Party included international superstars Dua Lipa, Kesha and Sam Smith, as well as Brazilian drag phenomenon Pabllo Vittar.

OIP Staff, images supplied by Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. 

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