The Sydney Mardi Gras is one of the biggest LGBTQI pride events in the world. It’s been around since 1978, when it sprung up in reaction to the Stonewall Riots in New York City. Now, it’s a Sydney institution, and one of my favourite things about my fair city.
Next year is the 35th anniversary, and for the first time, members of the Australian Defence Force will be allowed to march in the parade in uniform. The ABC reports:
The Australian Defence Force has cleared gay members to march in uniform in next year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The move comes 20 years after the ADF lifted a ban on homosexuals in the armed forces.
A statement issued by the ADF says soldiers, sailors and air men and women will march in formation in the parade in March next year. They have been allowed to join a Defence Force contingent in the parade for the last five years, but not in uniform.
The statement says diversity is an asset and workplace inclusion will be a high priority as Defence undergoes cultural change.
Goodness knows that this has been a hell of a year for the Australian Defence Force and sexual and gender-based harassment. Hundreds of men and women have come forward and leveled accusations about harassment and assault that stretch back over decades, to the point that the Minister for Defence issued an official apology to them on behalf of the government.
In that context, this new Mardi Gras policy seems like an attempt to bolster its image after the giant hits its taken this year – “see, we’re not uniformly awful when it comes to discrimination against our employees!” Nonetheless, it’s a welcome one.