Sydney’s gay men and lesbians helped swell the ranks of peace protesters at last Sunday’s anti-war rally in Hyde Park.

About 150 people joined the Enola Gay group at the rally, but many more were present in the crowd, which the most conservative estimates put at more than 250,000. Among them were the Dykes for Disarmament, the Poofs for Peace, and many hundreds more marching with groups of friends.

Enola Gay spokesperson Paul van Reyk said it was incredibly important for gays and lesbians to be seen as part of the peace movement.

The group would be present at further anti-war demonstrations, he said, including a Town Hall rally planned for 5pm on the day that war is announced (if it happens).

The convenor of the Walk Against The War coalition, Dr Hannah Middleton, said Sunday’s rally had exceeded all expectations.

We knew it was going to be big, but we didn’t know it would top a quarter of a million people, she said. From an organiser’s point of view, it was hell, but everyone was amazingly helpful and they took care of one another.

The Walk Against War coalition will not be planning any further large-scale rallies in the immediate future.

We can’t have huge central marches all the time -“ that exhausts people, Middleton said.

She also rejected prime minister John Howard’s dismissal of the rallies.

He’s no longer speaking for Australia. He no longer represents this country, she said.

Howard’s use of the word mob (in an interview on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes program) demonstrated his contempt for the views of the Australian people, Middle-ton argued.

Gay groups joined peace rallies across the globe in the past week, in cities as far afield as San Francisco, New York, Montr?, London and Rome.

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