By Neil Fraser, Deputy CEO, Positive Life NSW

We all love Mardi Gras, right? We love it because it is the biggest, brassiest celebration of who we are, who we love and who our allies are. We love it because it gives us strength, presence, and impact. We love it for the commemoration of our defiance and rebellion. We love it because it represents us.

But not so much when the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) Board announces it is going to hold a General Meeting on 1st December. 

That’s right: one of Sydney’s, and Australia’s, premier gay and lesbian representative bodies is going all admin on one of the most important days in the community’s calendar. 

Declared in 1988, World AIDS Day is a day close to the heart for the community of people living with and affected by HIV, and an annual day for grieving and remembering our friends, partners and family we have lost to HIV/AIDS. Combatting the double blow of LGBTQI+ rights in a time of wide-spread institutionalised oppression and discrimination, along with the devastation caused by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the SGLMG Board are well acquainted with the impact of HIV/AIDS on our communities.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first reported case of HIV/AIDS, a time that would still be as clear as day in the memories of our founding ‘78ers and many others. The community, including previous SGLMG board members such as Brandon Bear (former co-chair) and champion for sex workers and PLHIV Julie Bates AO have expressed their concerns that this clash of dates is disrespectful. 

Other Positive Life NSW members voiced their loud and clear response to this decision to use 1st December for a General Meeting:

“I’m not sure what’s more disappointing – that it didn’t appear on anyone’s calendar at SGLMG or that it did and they decided to ignore it”

“How insensitive or plain out of touch. Whatever the case, MG need to remedy the situation and it is clearly not just about changing the date.”

As 1st December falls on a Wednesday this year, we sincerely hope that the board will see fit to amend this date out of respect for those lost to and living with HIV/AIDS.

Positive Life NSW is the peer-led and peer-run representative voice of all people living with and affected by HIV in NSW. We would welcome a discussion with the SGLMG Board around the importance of World AIDS Day to our communities.


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