“BEST ever”, “historic” and “extraordinary” are just some of the ways people describing last weekend’s Brisbane Pride Festival’s rally, march and Fair Day, which was officially the biggest ever in its 25 year history.
Before Saturday’s celebrations, this year’s festival had already made history in a few areas, namely with high-profile political representation and participation of uniformed Queensland emergency service officers.
[showads ad=MREC]Along with marking a milestone on the day as the largest-ever march and Fair Day, another first was made when Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made a surprise appearance around 12noon at New Farm Park.
“From the largest Brisbane Pride rally and march in the history of the Brisbane Pride Festival, which featured several firsts…to the most colourful and vibrant Fair Day Brisbane has ever seen, the day was simply spectacular,” Brisbane Pride president Peter Black told the Star Observer.
An estimated 2000 people took part in the march and later over 6000 attended Fair Day.
“We saw record numbers of people through the gates and everyone has been commenting on the friendly, positive atmosphere that was present throughout the day,” Black said.
Once labelled as “deviants” by former Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, the difference and progression made over several decades could not have been more stark — and welcomed — as the parade was led for the first time by a Queensland Deputy Premier and Brisbane Lord Mayor.
Prior to the march that turned Brunswick St into a sea of colour, rally attendees converged in front of the Empire Hotel where they were addressed by Black, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, who spoke of his desire for Brisbane to become a truly inclusive city.
Two co-sponsors of a cross party marriage equality bill, Brisbane federal Coalition MP Teresa Gambaro and Griffith federal Labor MP Terri Butler, also joined them on the Empire Hotel’s balcony, along with Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart and community members Roz Dickson and family lawyer Stephen Page.
“We have come a long way in 25 years, but scenes like this could not be imaginable in 1990,” Black told the crowd.
“We are not just police officers and firies, and we’re not just here dressed here like flight attendants. We are teachers, we are tradies, we are doctors and nurses, we are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and we deserve to be treated as such.”
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Queensland, which happened under the former Goss Labor Government.
Last week, state Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath introduced legislation to restore Civil Unions and state-sanctioned ceremonies to Queensland, after the former Newman Liberal-National Government stripped them back to “registered relationships” in 2012.
“To our opponents who say that we need to go slow on [Civil Unions], well I say to them it should never have been removed,” Trad said.
Commissioner Stewart described the involvement of over 50 uniformed police officers — some who had come from across the state — as a “milestone”.
“Any police service that doesn’t reflect the community’s norms and diversity is not a police service that’s doing its job,” he said.
After not being able to attend the rally and march, Fair Day attendees were surprised by the sudden appearance of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in another first for Brisbane Pride.
“The broad bipartisan support we received from all three levels of government this year is a powerful symbol of support both for the LGBTIQA community and Brisbane Pride itself,” Black said.
Although there was one protestor who disagreed with the inclusion of uniformed police officers, due to historic discrimination faced by the LGBTI community during the 1970s and 80s — Black said the crowd generally welcomed their involvement, acknowledging the progress that has been made.
Police responded to the protestor, who made an appearance towards the end of the march, by waving their rainbow flags and making hand-heart gestures.
“We love you,” one officer said.
Black said police and ambulance involvement in the parade reflected the “genuine, widespread support for LGBTIQA rights in the wider community”.
He also said this year’s festival had come of age.
“What was particularly encouraging was the fact that we received unprecedented levels of support from government, media and the wider community while at the same time keeping the vibrant, colourful, and uniquely queer spirit of the festival that was embraced in record numbers by the LGBTIQA community,” Black said.
“The Brisbane Pride Festival is looking forward to building on the success of this year to make sure that the 2016 Festival is bigger and brighter than ever before.”
GALLERY #1: Brisbane Pride Festival rally & march
GALLERY #2: Brisbane Pride Festival Fair Day
GALLERY #3: Brisbane Pride Festival rally & march (part II)[showads ad=FOOT]