Despite flooding conditions around St Kilda over the weekend, the 16th annual Pride March went ahead as planned, with crowds lucky to escape wet weather as they gathered to watch festivities.
More than 90 groups took to the streets on Sunday in a show of celebration and solidarity, with colourful results.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland led the Victoria Police contingent in his second march, joining federal MPs Adam Bandt (Melbourne) and Kelly O’Dwyer (Higgins), and state MPs Clem Newton-Brown (Prahran) and Martin Foley (Albert Park), Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber and Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Helen Szoke on the annual trek down Fitzroy St.
Pride March Victoria president Brett Hayhoe paid tribute to slain Ugandan gay activist David Kato and called for unconditional acceptance of GLBTI people worldwide.
“For this sort of homophobia to still be occurring in this day and age is a stark reminder that we do indeed still have a long way to go,” Hayhoe said.
“This year’s theme, I hope, will remind everyone that Pride March Victoria is part of a much larger global movement, a movement that constantly reminds those who wish to treat LGBTI people across the world like second-class citizens … it is not okay to do this.”
Speaking to the crowd, Victorian health minister David Davis said GLBTI health, and overall safety, is on the Government’s agenda.
“I want to say the GLBTI community is a very important community and I’m determined as Minster for Health to maintain very good and strong links [for] issues that are important to your community and to make sure that is on the agenda for my Government and its health agenda,” Davis said.
“Discrimination is not acceptable, wherever it occurs and violence is not acceptable wherever it occurs, and certainly the Government … is determined to make sure that the community is safe, and safe for absolutely everyone.”
State Opposition leader Daniel Andrews said he believed the annual Pride March was still necessary and assured crowds the event wouldn’t be the last he’d attend.
“Yes, we are a different community today. Yes, decency and fairness and something approaching equity has been hard-fought, and we are better today than perhaps we have ever been in terms of understanding one another and celebrating each other,” he said.
“But you can’t rest on your laurels, you can’t take that for granted, so today’s event is an important way in which we as a community … can come together to say that it’s never wrong to be who you are.
“I have attended Pride a number of times. Today’s my first time as leader of the Labor Party. Let me assure each and every one of you it won’t be the last time I’m here.”
Pride March marked the end of the Midsumma festival period for this year.