In a gesture of solidarity with the LGBTI community 40 years after the first Mardi Gras protest, New South Wales Police have for the first time raised a rainbow flag outside their headquarters at the Sydney Police Centre.

Joining the Australian and New South Wales flags, the rainbow flag symbolises the relationship between police and the LGBTI community, and how far it has come over the past decades.

 The flag will be raised every day for a week to mark this year’s Mardi Gras.

Police Assistant Commissioner Tony Crandell said the flag-raising was a significant occasion.

“NSW Police proudly promote inclusion, diversity and acceptance within the force and wider community,” said Crandell.

“We have come a long way, and raising the rainbow flag demonstrates the strong relationships we have created and foster with LGBTIQ people and organisations.

“It’s important to celebrate diversity and create a supportive environment for people to feel safe, irrespective of sexuality or gender identity.”

“Forty years ago we were arrested and thrown into cells at Darlinghurst Police Station,” said Justin Koonin from LGBTI health group ACON in a Facebook post.

“This morning, for the first time, the rainbow flag was raised alongside the Australian and NSW flags at NSW Police Headquarters.

“It has been a long, and often difficult, journey to get to this point. For sure, there is work still to do.

“Let’s acknowledge though how far we have come. Happy Mardi Gras!”

New South Wales Police will once again march in this year’s Mardi Gras parade, which is expected to be the largest yet.

The 40th annual parade is this Saturday evening, with over half a million people expected to join in the festivities.

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