The start of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival has been marked with the flying of the rainbow flag at Sydney’s Town Hall and the presentation of the key to the city to the Kirby Institute, recognising its outstanding work with people living with HIV and AIDS.
For the eighth consecutive year, the colourful symbol for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities will fly over Sydney’s most important civic building until the end of the festival on Sunday 5 March 2017.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City of Sydney was proud to grant the honour of the key to the city to the research organisation that had done so much to support the city’s gay community over the past three decades. “These two ceremonies reflect our commitment to equality, social justice and diversity,” said the Lord Mayor.
“This year’s Mardi Gras theme is ‘creating equality’, and this is a prime opportunity to highlight the ways we can all work together to eliminate discrimination against sexuality, sex, gender identity, race, beliefs, age and ability.”
The key to the city was accepted by Professor Andrew Grulich, head of the HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Program at the Kirby Institute, UNSW Australia. Professor Grulich is one of Australia’s leading HIV researchers and public health physicians.
“It’s a great honour to accept this key to the city on behalf of the Kirby Institute,” said Professor Grulich. “When I started work in this field of HIV/AIDS in 1995 as a young epidemiologist desperate to help my community, it was a bleak time with very few answers. Today, no-one in Australia needs to die from HIV infection and we are realistically looking towards the virtual elimination of HIV infection in this community.
“I would like to acknowledge our partners in research, government and the community who have walked this road with us every step of the way. Together we have achieved what was once unimaginable.”
The City of Sydney is a major sponsor of the Sydney’s Mardi Gras Festival, which features a range of free events, including the famous Parade along Oxford and Flinders Streets on Saturday 4 March, Stories of Art and Identity – a free talk from LGBTIQ artists on Wednesday 1 March at Customs House library, and last Sunday’s Fair Day at Camperdown Memorial Rest Park in Newtown.
The 2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras continues to Sunday 5 March. For more information, visit: www.mardigras.org.au for details.
Image: City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore with Rainbow Flag (supplied)