MORE than 150 people living with a disability will march in this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, marking a record number for the event.

Co-Chief Executive of People with Disability Australia, Matthew Bowden, said many of his group’s members identify as LGBTI.

“We are part of the community – we see our disability and sexuality as key parts of our identities,” he said.

“People with disability have diverse sexualities and gender identities, and need to have access to sexuality and relationship education.”

The LGBTI Health Alliance reports that 22.7 per cent of people aged 16 and over identify as having a disability or long-term health condition.

This rate increases substantially in the trans community, with 58 per cent of trans people over the age of 18 reporting having a disability or chronic health condition.

Jarad Andrew McLoughlin is an autistic gay man and will be part of the Mardi Gras parade.

“Marching in Mardi Gras is a way I can lift the profile of people with disability – demonstrating we have a right to express our diverse sexualities,” he said.

“We can be openly proud of our sexuality.”

Alex Dennis will also be part of the float. He wants to show that people with a disability should be visible in the LGBTI community.

He said he felt isolated growing up, with few resources or LGBTI people to connect with.

“I found growing up it hard to be myself as a gay man with a disability,” he said.

“It’s important to highlight that yes, we have a disability and do things different to the norm out there but we are here, we are queer, and we are not going to be ignored anymore.

“We need to remember that there are parts of the community, like people who are LGBTI and have a disability that already feel ashamed, scared, and really somewhat neglected.

“We need to change out ways and be inclusive to everyone possible.”

People with Disability Australia, along with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Northcott will march together this year with the National Disability Insurance Agency.

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