• NSW police take part in the Sydney Mardi Gras parade on Oxford Street in Sydney on March 2, 2013. (AAP)
The NSW Police Force has apologised to participants of the original Sydney Mardi Gras for their ill-treatment at the hands of police in 1978.
By
Drew Sheldrick

4 Mar 2016 - 10:58 AM  UPDATED 4 Mar 2016 - 10:54 AM

The NSW Police Force has apologised for the "hurt and pain" suffered by participants of the 1978 gay rights march which sparked what is known today as the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.

NSW Police spokesperson for sexuality and gender diversity, Superintendent Tony Crandell, offered the apology at a press conference in Chippendale this morning for the 2016 Sydney Mardi Gras Parade.

"I can tell you that I spoke with our commissioner this morning and I have his full support in saying that the NSW Police Force is sorry for the way that first Mardi Gras was policed back in 1978," Crandell said.

"For that we apologise, and we acknowledge the pain and hurt caused by police stations back then"

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The NSW government has apologised to the members of the group of gay and lesbian people who marched in protest of homosexual criminalisation in 1978.

The NSW government last week offered its own apology to the marchers, known as the '78ers', for the abuse they endured at the protest in June 1978. The movement ended in violence, ill-treatment and public shaming against the gay rights activists at the hands of the police, government and media.

The Sydney Morning Herald's editor in chief, Darren Goodsir, also offered an apology to 78ers for printing the names, addresses and professions of those arrested during the protest.

Crandell said he understood the apology issued by the NSW Parliament last Thursday was on behalf of all NSW government agencies, but that the NSW Police felt its perspective was important as well.

"Today's force is a very different organisation. We are diverse and we're proud of that diversity," he said.

"We have come a long, long way. We have had our own journey."

Members of the NSW Police Force will march in tomorrow night's Sydney Mardi Gras Parade which will be broadcast by SBS on Sunday night at 8.30pm.

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