DANIEL Andrews became the first Victorian Premier to lead Pride March on Sunday in the event’s 20th year, alongside participants of the very first march in 1996.
A large crowd turned out to watch the march down Fitzroy St in St Kilda — despite concerns the wet weather would drive people away, morning showers gave way to intermittent afternoon sun.
One of the largest groups in the march was Stand Out, with hundreds of young people marching under the banner that includes queer youth organisation Minus18 and the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria.
All the major LGBTI community groups were also out in force, including Vic Leather, Transgender Victoria, Bisexual Alliance Victoria, radio station Joy 94.9 and contingents from local LGBTI businesses and community sporting organisations.
There was also a significant showing from the state’s police and emergency services, with a large group of Victoria Police members marching in step and groups from the Victoria State Emergency Service, Ambulance Victoria and the Country Fire Authority.
This was also the first Pride March since its governing organisation was controversially dissolved last year, the event becoming an official responsibility of the Midsumma Festival.
At the head of a large contingent of Rainbow Labor members and MPs, the Premier appeared with his wife Catherine Andrews, Minister for Equality Martin Foley and the US ambassador to Australia, John Berry.
Andrews repeated his line from Midsumma Carnival that “equality is not negotiable”, but the government has still failed to provide a concrete timeframe on any of its policy commitments made to the LGBTI community during the election campaign.
The Premier avoided providing any indication of when Victoria is likely to see legislation on adoption equality, instead shifting focus to the potential battle the government faces in getting a bill through the upper house.
“We’re taking our time to get it right, but they will be introduced, and I hope that every single member of the Victorian Parliament recognises that we’re in 2015, not 1815, and votes with the government to deliver that adoption equality,” he said.
“I’m very hopeful that we can make a start on this this year.”
While the Greens and the Sex Party had significant numbers in the march, the Liberal Party were conspicuously absent following the party’s devastating at Saturday’s Queensland election.
One year after its launch at the 2014 Pride March, the LGBTI-focused Australian Equality Party debuted its policy platform at this year’s event.
Party leader and 2016 Australian Senate hopeful Jason Tuazon-McCheyne said the platform was the result of extensive community consultation over the past year.
Photo credit: Bodie Strain
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