The scorching temperature did little to dissuade people at the weekend who gathered in the thousands in Fitzroy St, St Kilda to celebrate Victoria’s 15th annual Pride March.
Although the turnout was healthy, numbers were slightly down as the day competed with the one-year anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires and trialled a new 2pm start time.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland met with an appreciative reception. Overland said it was the warmest welcome he’s received from a community group.
“I do many community events but never have I experienced the sort of reception and the sort of welcome we got marching down the street to come here today… and I mean that with all sincerity,” he said.
Pride March Victoria president Brett Hayhoe praised it as “one of the best Pride Marches ever”.
“All Prides around the world play a vital role in telling the political powers to make change, that it is not okay to treat us as second-class citizens,” Hayhoe told the crowd.
Hayhoe called on the Victorian GLBTI community to remember Pride as a “global movement”.
“I need you to ask yourselves how quickly the human rights that we have achieved would disappear if our community was not visible in the eyes of the lawmakers. We must continue to be a visible community.”
Port Phillip Mayor Frank O’Connor called on the crowd to remember those living in places less fortunate where gay, lesbian and transgender people face serious risk.
“We march not just for the people here in Melbourne, but for the nation and our brothers and sisters across the world, particularly in many neighbouring countries where homosexuality is still illegal and punishable by jail or beating or other persecutions.”
Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls said the day was to celebrate building wider community respect and value.
The march drew an impressive turnout from school groups across Victoria.
There were standout entries from gay and lesbian car club Motafrenz, the Sisters of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence, Dykes on Bikes, the Rainbow Families Council and PFLAG.
The parade this year was set to an original song, Proudly Walking, penned by local artists Will Conyers and David Peake.
The song will be played at the InterPride AGM in California later this year.
The international Pride theme this year is ‘one heart, one world, one pride’.