Sydney saw an impressive 50,000 people march for international LGBTQI+ at the WorldPride festival’s closing. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was chosen for the march, which made headlines worldwide.
The bridge was closed for several hours for the Pride March, marking the seventh and final day of the festival, which was held in Sydney for the first time.
The event didn’t go down without some emotional highlights. A mid-bridge proposal was one of those highlights as well as an international greeting of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong. They joined the crowd at the opening ceremony, where organisers asked walkers to think about those in countries where lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) people are persecuted.
One LGBTQI+ activist, Peter De Waal, says the day was an emotional journey.
He told ABC…
“Today for me is like a pilgrimage I started in 1970. I think of many different events, including the AIDS epidemic, when we go across the bridge. Remember the thousands of mainly young men we lost. It’s an amazing achievement we’ve made in those 50 years.”
“It’s really emotional. I lost my partner five years ago. We were a couple for 50 years. He died seven months before we could get married, and we wanted to get married. So it’s a very emotional journey and pilgrimage for me.”
Organisers touted the march as being relentless in their demand for equality, not only in Australia but for all LGBTQI+ people worldwide.
The march commenced in North Sydney and ended at The Domain in Sydney’s CBD, where the WorldPride closing ceremony was held.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese remarked that it was “a great moment.”
“It’s symbolising the unity that has been on the show for 17 days. We are an inclusive country and it’s great to show that to the world.”
Some marchers described the experience of walking across the bridge as like a pilgrimage for gay rights, beginning in the 1970s.
NSW Treasurer, Matt Kean, says the massive turnout was a strong statement from a community calling for equality.
“This is so significant. We’re celebrating the diversity of our entire community and thousands of people have come out to show their respect and show support for Sydney in all its diversity.”
“So many barriers have been broken down but there are so many more barriers to break down.”
NSW Independent MP, Alex Greenwich, also described it as a powerful moment.
“Closing the Harbour Bridge for tens of thousands of people marching to end all LGBTQI discrimination. There’s still more work to do but this is a powerful moment for our city and our country.”
Actor Sam Neill said he decided to march in solidarity with friends and was happy to see that Sydney had come a long way since he first visited 40 years ago.
“Pride of course is the opposite of shame and there was a lot of shame back in the day.”
“That’s pretty much gone and I’m glad of that. But this isn’t true everywhere in the world and I think that’s what WorldPride is about.”
Many walkers danced to music and waved to train passengers who were also crossing the bridge. They carried pride flags and banners that represented a wide range of charities and organisations.
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