WITH equality appearing to be just around the corner for marriage laws across Australia, it’s no surprise that a greater — and more pressing — message of equality is emerging as the theme for LGBTI celebrations around the country.

Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is no exception and the region’s LGBTI community has adopted the message as its theme for their upcoming pride festival starting next weekend.

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“Out ’N Equal” is the rallying call for the three-day festival that runs from February 26 to 28, acknowledging a change in the political winds and in wider society towards acceptance and inclusion of the LGBTI community.

“Our theme this year… is about encouraging all community members to be proud and confident, and remember there is no difference between us all  – except regarding whom we may love  – and that’s something to stand proud of and worth fighting for in this vital time leading up to change,” Sunshine Coast Pride committee chair Marjorie Blowers said.

Celebrating its eighth year, the festival aims to improve on record numbers that attended in 2015.

“Our festival last year was our biggest ever with over 2000 people coming along to our Pride Fair Day at Eumundi Markets,” Blowers said.

“For 2016 we have even more great entertainers secured with an eclectic line-up of artists ranging from folk to dance musicians, intense energy DJs, dancers and drag queens”.

A staple of any LGBTI festival will mark its inaugural year on the Sunshine Coast as the Pride Paws Parade looks to showcase the best dressed and most beautiful dogs from the community.

The opening party night will also feature a special performance by a local burlesque group that has a message of empowerment for women.

“I feel so much love and joy seeing women blossom and learning to express themselves in a way they never thought possible,” Burlesque L’Armour owner Jordyn Clancy said.

“It’s great to see women having the courage to get up on stage and have so much sass and confidence.”

A new feature of the festival includes a “Pride Play Day” focused on being out and active with a hike around local landmark Mt Coolum, a match between members of the Brisbane Hustlers rugby union club, and boat races.

The highlight of the festival, Fair Day, once again returns to the region’s iconic Eumundi Markets and will mark its third year there.

“With activities planned around the Coast…the whole weekend [is] designed to unite the Coast’s LGBTIQ community, their family and friends, and to welcome out-of-towners to show-off all that the Sunny Coast has to offer,” committee member Chris Cooper said.

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS:

Pride Party Night – Friday, February 26, 8pm-midnight at Noosa Reef’s SODA Club
Pride Fair Day and Paw Parade – Saturday, February 27 from 10am onwards at Eumundi Markets. Free entry
Show Night – Saturday, February 27 from 8pm at Waterfront Hotel featuring Ms Melony Brests and friends
Pride Play Day – Sunday, February 28 featuring Mt Coolum Hike, Brisbane Hustlers rugby match, boat races.

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