Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has responded to social media outcry and a change.org petition calling on the organisation to be more supportive of the founders of the now pride celebration, the 78ers.
The 78ers were the group of activists who were arrested on June 24, 1978 when they took to Sydney’s Taylor Square in support and celebration of New York’s Stonewall movement and to call for an end to criminalisation of homosexual acts and discrimination against homosexuals.
The change.org petition addressed to the SGLMG Board and CEO calls on the organisation to give free entry tickets to all 2018 events to all 78ers.
Mardi Gras has responded in an offical statment obtained by DNA:
A Statement from Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras:
We acknowledge that Mardi Gras is built on the backs of those that came before us and that our history is our strength. We strive to celebrate the amazing community activists, leaders, creatives, staff and Boards, over four decades who have worked tirelessly for and within our community.
Each year Mardi Gras work hard to support our 78ers at events we produce ourselves. Mardi Gras provides up to $10,000 for the 78ers Float to lead the Parade up Oxford Street behind the First Nations float. For those wanting to be spectators, we also ensure a dedicated viewing space on the Parade Route with easy access to toilets as well as complimentary travel back to Central station after Parade.
An allocation of 20 complimentary Party tickets is also offered each year to the 78ers, many of which have never been used. Complimentary lifetime Mardi Gras membership is available to all 78ers which gives access to members discounts for Mardi Gras events, including the Party and many other discount incentives.
This year, we have implemented even more initiatives, including a 78ers creative working group, to help form tighter bonds between Mardi Gras and 78ers that aim to better help us support, celebrate and champion their past, present and futures.
Included in these initiatives are an additional 80 discounted tickets to Party at $45.00 per ticket on top of the annual allocation of complimentary tickets. Mardi Gras are also pleased to provide $5,000 towards 78ers experiencing financial hardship to help cover costs for travel across Australia to come to Mardi Gras for the 40th. Two things that have not been done in the history of Mardi Gras and something we hope to build on in the future.
We are also pleased to support the 78ers activation at Fair Day and provide a dedicated marque for the group to share their important history with Fair Day visitors and invite them to provide a welcome message to the 70,000 attendees.
As we celebrate all we have achieved over 40 years we remember and acknowledge our older LGBTQI community, including our wonderful 78ers, but also many many others who have dedicated their lives to social justice and equality. Our events are more accessible for those with mobility needs or experiencing disability. A new chill out space at Party is programmed for older guests in mind who want to enjoy party but be able to socialise in a more relaxed environment.
Ongoing, we continue to work with our community to help create an accessible and inclusive Festival experience for the many different people that make up the vibrant and colourful rainbow with which we celebrate each year.