Sydney Mardi Gras: Celebrate progress but much still to be done to end prejudice

5 March 2016

Saturday 5 March 2016

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie today wished organisers and participants of the annual Mardi Gras Parade a joyous celebration, adding that much still needs to be done to ensure that we achieve true equality and an end to discrimination for Australia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

“The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade has become one of our nation’s most popular events, drawing people from all over the world. It is a spectacular celebration of all that has been achieved in the past 40 years. But it’s also a reminder that we’ve still got much work to do to achieve true equality,” Dr Goldie said.

“Despite the wonderful progress we’ve made in terms of acceptance, and reforms in areas such as social security, tax and superannuation – the job is still far from done.

“As long as loving same sex relationships are invalidated through the failure to recognise marriage equality, those of us affected remain virtual second class citizens.

“As long as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people continue to suffer discrimination in the workplace, in our schools and in the streets through bullying, harassment and violence, those affected remain on the margins of society.

“As long as our diverse community continues to experience higher rates of suicide, elevated rates of mental health issues and poorer health outcomes, we will be prevented from reaching our full potential as individuals and as a society.

“The current harmful debate about the potentially life-saving Safe Schools program highlights the obstacles to achieving true equality. This program encourages young people to be themselves without fear of persecution or judgment and fosters empathy for those who are different to them. Participation in the program is voluntary and it has the support of many teachers and students around the country.

“It would be a travesty if opponents of equality had their way, especially when we know that there is still so much to be done to make our communities safe, with reports of violence against LGBTI people still persistent.

“In 2016, the time has come for Australia to catch up to many other developed countries and recognise marriage equality. There is clear support for this in the community and our elected representatives must show leadership and enshrine this right into law. We do not need an expensive and potentially divisive plebiscite on an issue that can easily be settled by our Federal Parliament. We call on the Commonwealth Government to give people of diverse sex, sexuality and gender identity the same rights that all other people enjoy without further delay.”

“Today’s Mardi Gras Parade will celebrate the community activism and ongoing resilience of the LGBTI communities and all that has been achieved in the past four decades. From all of us at ACOSS, in our rich diversity here, we wish everyone out there a wonderful Happy Mardi Gras!

“And as we welcome so many people from all over the world to today’s celebration, we should also be aware that the world is watching and waiting. So are our children. Enough talk: it’s time for action to make equality a reality.” Dr Goldie said.

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