The rainbow flag is flying again over Sydney Town Hall as the city celebrated the official start of Mardi Gras.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore, NSW Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) CEO Michael Rolik were on hand to raise the flag on the steps of Town Hall today, marking the 35th years since Mardi Gras began in 1978.

Moore said the City of Sydney, which has flown the flag over Town Hall every year since 2010 and entered a float in the parade every year since 2005, was proud to be supporting the festival again.

“Raising the rainbow flag above Sydney Town Hall is the clearest way we can show that Sydney is a welcoming and safe place for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people who live, work or visit,” she said.

In a speech at the launch SGLMG co-chair Peter Urmson spoke of Mardi Gras’ importance to a new “uncompromised and unashamed” generation of young gay people.

“For a young teenager finding the courage to come out to his or her friends at school, Mardi Gras represents truth and freedom. To same-sex couples in love who dream of one day legally marrying, Mardi Gras represents equality and acceptance, and to a proud mum or dad marching with PFLAG during Parade Night, Mardi Gras means unconditional love,” Urmson said.

The flag will fly until Monday, March 4, the day after Mardi Gras officially ends.

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