The sun came out today as hundreds of people gathered at Taylor Square a few hours before the Mardi Gras parade at the Sydney Cricket Ground to demand the decriminalisation of sex work, the withdrawal of the Religious Discrimination Bill, and increased investment in social services.

Organised by the Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR) and Pride in Protest (PIP), speakers at the Mardi Gras Rally: Oxford Street Protest included NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, Tamil refugee activist Dr Lyngaran Selvaratnam, 78er Dr David Abello, Mardi Gras Board director and Pride in Protest member Wei Thai-Haynes, and CARR’s co-convenor April Holcombe.

Selvaratnam called LGBTQI refugees the “most marginalised of marginalised communities.

“They face a triple whammy of persecution from the state for their ethnicity, but also their gender and sexual identity. But then, in addition, they face persecution within their own communities.

“Homosexuality remains criminalized in nearly 70 countries around the world, including Sri Lanka, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, where most of Australia’s refugees have come from. Yet the Australian Government does not do more.”

He continued, “We have to hold every one of these bloody politicians to account.”

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge rallied the crowd.

“This is how we change the world,” he said. 

“The world isn’t changed by a march which has the Commonwealth Bank and the police floats in it. That’s not how you change the world.”

NSW MP David Shoebridge

Thai-Haynes said, “The sex workers marched alongside the 78ers protesting against the police for their rights and for the rights of the queer community. 

“Here we are today, sex workers loud and proud, protesting for our rights once again, because we do not have them yet.”

With the sun in their faces and the sound of cheering onlookers and helicopters hovering overhead, the protesters marched along Oxford Street towards Sydney’s Hyde Park. 

Pride in Protest’s Charlie Murphy was pleased with the turnout and told Star Observer, “We want to say loud and proud. We don’t accept homophobia and transphobia in the parliament. We don’t accept it on the streets, and we’ll keep on fighting until we have the full liberation of our community.”

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