’78ers Apology

160225 78er apology at Parliament Jenny and RayI was fortunate to be in the public gallery of the NSW Parliament for the apology to those of us who marched in the first ever Mardi Gras in 1978, otherwise known as the ‘78ers. As a ‘78er myself, I am proud to have been a part of the history for the struggle for LGBTIQ equality.

The apology was an emotional moment for a number of ‘78ers that were able to join us. I give credit to a cross-party coalition of MPs who brought this important and long overdue motion to the Legislative Assembly – my Greens colleague Jenny Leong along with Bruce Notley-Smith, Jo Haylen, Alex Greenwich and Trevor Khan.

Importantly the Sydney Morning Herald and the NSW Police joined the Parliament with their own apology. The brutal approach the Police took to the protesters and the Herald’s printing of the names of protesters has had a lasting impact on the lives of those involved. Although I wasn’t personally subjected to Police violence I saw how deeply it effected the community. There were a number of people who took their lives as a result of the shame a bullying they received for taking part in this important protest.

Sadly, the Parliamentary apology has come at a time where the Baird Government is planning to move anti-protect legislation. The proposed legislation is aimed at those who engage in anti-mining civil disobedience and will increase fines from $500 to $5500. Like the 1978 Mardi Gras, this act makes me wonder how these measures will be viewed in another 40 years time.

Although the apology was a high point for this year’s Mardi Gras I am deeply upset to see Malcolm Turnbull attack on the safe schools program designed to prevent homophobic bullying. This program is so important for the health and wellbeing of our young people and, more broadly, our community.

You can show your support for the safe schools program by signing the petition here.

The fight for equality is not over yet and I commit to continuing my work with the LGBTIQ community and its supporters for a better future.

160305 Mardi Gras Irene Richard di Natale


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