Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon got a hero’s welcome on Sunday as she led the Victoria police contingent down Fitzroy St, St Kilda for the city’s 14th annual Pride March.
The 45,000-strong crowd was blessed with markedly cooler weather than the city had experienced in the days leading up to the march which saw Melbourne sizzle in record temperatures.
It was Nixon’s second appearance at the march after she controversially led the police contingent in 2002. Sunday’s appearance was one of her last public outings before she leaves the post of police commissioner next month.
-œThis is a wonderful occasion. You are wonderful people and I can’t thank you enough for the kind of support you’ve given me, she told enthusiastic crowds at the end of the march.
-œUnquestionably you’ve been there and you’ve supported me and it’s a great pleasure to be part of this wonderful community.
Among community stalwarts, parents, friends and newcomers, marchers included former Deputy Premier John Thwaites, Health Minister Daniel Andrews and Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls.
The City of Port Phillip lent sizeable support, with councillors and staff marching in pink shirts alongside Mayor Frank O’Connor who said the council was taking -œa stand against bigotry and ignorance.
Keeping with tradition, the parade was led by Dykes on Bikes, with huge cheers for PFLAG en route, as well as the Rainbow Families Council which achieved great success in the last 12 months with the passing of the Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill last year.
Addressing the crowd, Hulls called for -œcementing decency and trust in the parliamentary process, citing the introduction of ART legislation and the Relationship Register as clear wins for the GLBTI community.
-œWho we love and how we experience the world should give us strength and resilience and should be a source of pride and also a source of celebration, Hulls told the crowd. -œThe GLBT community has demonstrated this strength and this resilience today and for many, many years, fighting for their basic human rights.
-œI’m immensely proud that discriminatory restrictions on access to ART have now been removed from our statute books in the state, and that children’s rights to have their parents recognised at law have now been respected.
Pride March Victoria president Brett Hayhoe praised the importance of pride marches and called on the community to speak out against other countries defying United Nations calls to end discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity.
-œWe as Australians fighting our own battles must not forget our brothers and sisters around the globe -” Australia indeed enjoys a blessed existence in comparison to these countries, he said.
-œThere will never be anything more political than a pride march and they will never lose their relevance or importance.
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