Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

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The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras is an annual gay pride parade and festival for the LGBT community in Sydney, Australia, and is the largest such event in the world[citation needed]. The parade features individual entrants in colourful costumes, gatherings of local and inter-state community group members, and elaborate floats representating a topical theme or political message.

The parade and dance party attract many international and domestic tourists. Mardi Gras is one of Australia's biggest tourist drawcards,[1] providing a significant economic boost of around $30 to $90 million Australian dollars to Sydney each year.[2] The celebrations emerged during the early 1980s after arrests were made during pro-gay rights protests that began in 1978. Despite its name, it is not held on Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday) or indeed, on a Tuesday at all.[3]



The first Mardi Gras was held on 24 June 1978 at 10 pm as a night-time celebration following a morning protest march and commemoration of the Stonewall Riots.[4] Although the organisers had obtained permission, this was revoked, and the march was broken up by the police. 53 of the marchers were arrested.[5] Although most charges were eventually dropped, the Sydney Morning Herald published the names of those arrested in full, leading to many people being outed to their friends and places of employment, and many of those arrested lost their jobs as homosexuality was a crime in New South Wales (NSW) until 1984.[6]

In 1981 the parade was shifted to February, with the name changed to the "Sydney Gay Mardi Gras".[5] An increasingly large number of people not only participated in the now summertime event, but larger numbers of the wider community turned out to watch the parade.[citation needed] In 1988 the parade was renamed the "Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras".[5]

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