Malcolm Turnbull the first sitting PM to attend Mardi Gras


The finishing touches to costumes and floats are complete as revellers take p[art for Sydney's annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

The 38th Mardi Gras is roaring into life with the famous Dykes On Bikes set to lead the parade that is expected to attract half a million spectators.

Malcolm Turnbull, a regular Mardi Gras spectator is attending this year. His presence makes him the first prime minister to do so.  

Mr Turnbull was mobbed this evening as he moved into the crowd, with many hands holding aloft mobile phones as members of the excited crowd tried to snap a selfie with the PM.

Speaking with SBS Mr Turnbull did not discuss reports that his presence at the parade would antagonise members of his backbench, but did express his support for Mardi Gras.

“This is an event that Lucy and I have attended for many, many years," he said.

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“I think it is a wonderful event in the life of Sydney and delighted to be here.”

A smiling Mr Turnbull said he would not be attending the notoriously hedonistic Mardi Gras after party however.

“We are going to be here to see the start of the parade, we don’t go to the party, we generally have an early night, but I am sure everyone who does will have a good time.” 

Sun shines on parade

The sun was shining on Sydney throughout Saturday afternoon as thousands put the finishing touches on their costumes, makeup and floats.

The pavements of Oxford Street are packed, with rainbows, glitter and smiles covering much of the crowd.

Tom Spillane, 36, has decorated himself in gold glitter and practised swinging his sword as he waited for the other 130 members of his viking pirate themed group.

It's his fourth Mardi Gras and his little sister Katie has come from Ireland to join in the celebration.
"It's going to be great fun," he told AAP.

Among those marching is Labor's Bill Shorten, who will be atop a float as the first leader from one of the two major parties to take part.

He used his appearance to recommit the ALP to legislate marriage equality within 100 days if it wins the upcoming election.

"People should be treated equally in this country and free of discrimination," he told reporters.

Saturday's parade will also feature the first float with Olympians and Paralympians under one banner.

About 175 floats will wind along Oxford and Flinders streets, before a massive party to cap the annual march.

Organisers expect about 230kg of glitter to colour the night, during which a group of founding marchers will celebrate much more than diversity for the first time.

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On Friday morning, NSW Police seconded last week's apology from the NSW government to the so-called 78ers.

Members of the group were bashed by police when they descended on Darlinghurst in June 1978 to protest against the criminalisation of homosexual acts and discrimination against the community.

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Source AAP

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