PM Malcolm Turnbull will make history, when he becomes the first sitting Australian leader to attend Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras event on Saturday, 5 March. He faced criticism from angry senior government MPs, with one telling 7 News: "it would be a dangerous thing to do".
In previous years Turnbull has attended the parade, conducted on Oxford Street in his eastern Sydney electorate of Wentworth, but this will be his first attendance as prime minister. However, Turnbull did not join the march, unlike his Labor counterpart.
Bill Shorten will be the first federal leader of a major party to participate in the march. Australia's opposition leader was surrounded by refugee advocates in the No Pride in Detention float and shouted at him: "We're here, we're queer, refugees are welcome here."
Shorten said at the event Labor would introduce gay marriage if elected. "It's a political statement, that people should be treated equally in this country, and free of discrimination," he said.
"I can promise people, that if Labor is elected at the federal election, within 100 days, we will introduce a law to make marriage equality a reality in Australia."
Prime Minister Turnbull said the event was a celebration of Australia's diversity in a message of support included in the Mardi Gras festival guide. "The hard work and commitment of Sydney's LGBTQI community has seen this event grow to a festival drawing visitors to Sydney from around the world. However, we cannot forget the history of Mardi Gras and the ongoing need to promote inclusion and deliver equality for all Australians," he said.
The 38th Mardi Gras parade had around 175 floats including Muslims Against Homophobia, with 12,500 participants marching. Organisers estimated that 460kg of glitter were used in making floats and costumes.
For the first time, Australian Olympians and Paralympians had their own Mardi Gras float, in an effort to raise awareness about diversity in sport. Led by gold medal swimmer Daniel Kowalski, the #OneTeam float was designed to send the message that Australia's athletes wanted sports free of homophobia.
"This week, for the very first time we march in support for inclusiveness, acceptance without discrimination and diversity," Kowalski told ABC News.