Anthony Albanese will become the first Prime Minister to march in Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade as he likens the campaign for an Indigenous Voice to the fight for marriage equality.
The Prime Minister made an impassioned plea to the LGBTIQ+ community for their support on the Voice as he delivered a speech in Newtown in Sydney’s inner west on Saturday.
Speaking at the unveiling of a rainbow beacon at the recently renamed Pride Square, Mr Albanese urged the crowd to campaign for the Voice to “make sure we get this done”.
He said he was confident Australians would look back on a successful referendum on the Voice in a similar way to how they now remembered the successful campaign for marriage equality.
“Just as when we got marriage equality done. People said, ‘Well, why didn’t we do that earlier?’” he said.
“And when we get this done, people will say, ‘Why didn’t we do it earlier?’”
Mr Albanese still faces an uphill battle on the Voice before the referendum on enshrining the body in the Constitution is held later this year.
He said on Saturday the idea of an Indigenous advisory body to consult with parliaments of the day was common sense rather than radical.
“That is all this is about recognising that privilege that we have, showing respect to the traditional owners who have cared for this land for thousands of generations,” he said.
“It’s that people who are impacted by decisions of government – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – should be consulted on matters that affect them. It’s that simple.”
Back on home turf in his electorate of Grayndler, Mr Albanese was greeted with cheers and applause as he stepped up to the microphone to speak despite starting a few minutes late.
In his speech, he declared he was a progressive and said diversity was something to celebrate, not just tolerate.
“One of the reasons why I am a progressive is that that’s how society moves forward. It gives me hope,” he said.
“Sometimes people will say, ‘Oh, you know, what about in the good old days?’
“In the good old days, we had no equality based upon people’s sexuality. We had a White Australia policy.”
The Prime Minister was introduced by Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne, who said Mr Albanese had been fighting for equal rights since he entered federal parliament in 1996.
His speech was followed by an a capella rendition of Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now performed by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir.
Mr Albanese, who has taken part in previous Mardi Gras festivals, said he would march in this year’s parade with Foreign Minister Penny Wong, the first openly gay woman in parliament.
Former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull became the first sitting Prime Minister to attend Mardi Gras in 2016, but he didn’t take part in the march.
The annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has grown to become part of one of the largest LGBTIQ+ festivals in the world since its inception in 1978, when protesters marched for gay rights down Oxford St.
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