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Sydney cleans up after record gay parade March 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Gay Life.

The streets of inner Sydney are being cleared of glitter and tinsel this morning after hundreds of thousands revellers celebrated this year’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

This year’s parade was the biggest on record with around 8,000 participants marching down Oxford Street, calling for greater equality and celebrating the gay and lesbian community in all aspects of society. Organisers of this year’s Mardi Gras say around 300,000 people lined the streets to watch the parade.

The Dykes on Bikes kicked off the 29th parade down Oxford Street in Darlinghurst. Chair of the parade, English actor Rupert Everett, says it is all about acceptance. Members of the Surf Life Saving Association also took part in the parade for the first time.

Mardi Gras organiser Marcus Bourget says despite the party celebrating the gay and lesbian community, politics still plays a major role. “There’s a lot of environmental messages, our lead float, ‘Mother Nature’ is about how we treat ourselves and the environment,” he said.

“At the same time, there’s still strong political messages coming through. My personal favourite float was the four guys from the Faroe Islands, they just enacted anti-discrimination laws in their country and they’ve flown all this way to celebrate that with us, I mean you can’t ask for more than that.”

One onlooker says Mardi Gras is a valuable part of the nation’s identity. “I think it’s important because everybody is an individual and this is something that just shows that individuality in Australia is an accepted thing,” the spectator said. “So I think it’s a pretty cool way to say that our country accepts all types.”

Police have praised revellers for their behaviour, but say they were concerned the level of alcohol consumption along the route might have been the cause of various incidents that resulted in a number of arrests. Mr Bourget confirmed a number of people were charged for assaulting police. “Police have arrested and charged a number of people for assaulting police, but they’ve generally praised revellers for their good behaviour,” he said.

After declaring this year’s parade a success, organisers are already preparing for next year’s 30th anniversary of the event.

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