I am honoured to speak in support of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and thank the member for Sydney for bringing this matter of public importance before the House. For 39 years Mardi Gras has been at the heart of the LGBTI and at the forefront of the fight for equality and progressive values in Australia. Mardi Gras grew from a small, spur-of-the moment protest into a month-long festival that celebrates diversity, culture and inclusion. Internationally of course Mardi Gras put Sydney on the LGBTI map; it is huge. People from around the world come here for what is a fantastic celebration.
This year's theme "Creating Equality" speaks directly to the sense of playfulness and positivity that has been present in the LGBTI protest. It speaks of the importance of the fight that continues to confront us—the fight for marriage equality, the fight for equality for trans- and gender-diverse people and the fight for the rights of LGBTIQ people to access services and support, particularly in the bush. Last year I was honoured to be part of the historic apology to the 78ers, the heroes who put everything on the line and marched in the very first Mardi Gras. At that march LGBTI took a stand against the brutal treatment they endured at the hands of the police, the justice system and the New South Wales Government.
They were beaten and detained and the names were then published in the Sydney Morning Herald. Thanks in large part to their struggle we have come a long way in this State. Homosexuality is no longer illegal; despite ongoing challenges, we are turning the tide on HIV and AIDS; same-sex couples are able to adopt and to register their relationship with the State Government; and we have a life-saving program in schools that seeks to protect young queer people from bullying. Of course, there are still many more fights ahead of us and Mardi Gras reminds us that the LGBTI will not stop fighting until they have won and I stand with them in those fights. I say to each of those groups that were part of Fair Day and will be part of the march that the Labor Party and I stand with them. I look forward to marching again and wish everyone a very happy Mardi Gras.