With what is commonly referred to as ‘Gay Christmas’ now beginning, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby looks back at the history and political impetus of the Mardi Gras parade.

What began as a small commemoration of 1969’s Stonewall Riots held in Oxford St in 1978 has blossomed into an international event. While the event is often perceived to be one big party, it remains a timely event to mark the legal inequalities that marginalise gay men and lesbians.

The GLRL has always used Mardi Gras to raise public awareness about how gay and lesbian people still experience discrimination. In NSW, gay and lesbian couples cannot adopt a child. At a federal level, our relationships are still differentiated from heterosexual couples.

This year the GLRL will conduct research into developing comprehensive federal anti-discrimination provisions. At Fair Day, the GLRL surveyed more than 400 people on their experiences of sexuality and/or gender identity-based discrimination.

In pushing for greater community awareness and engagement with young people, the GLRL will run a forum in Queer Thinking titled ‘Uncloseting Youth’. This forum brings young people (18-25) together to discuss what legal equality and social justice mean in a campaigning context. Uncloseting Youth will be held Friday, February 26, 12.30pm at the Seymour Centre and is free to attend.

As the parade now looms, the GLRL will be ‘Campaigning for Happier Days’. While we acknowledge that over the past 32 years we have made significant gains, further reform is needed to achieve social justice for gay and lesbian people.

The GLRL encourages you to show your support for achieving full legislative equality by marching in our float or volunteering for our Mardi Gras events. For further information or to RSVP for the parade and/or ‘Uncloseting Youth’, please email mardigras@glrl.org.au or call 9571 5501.

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