Gay cowboys aping the stars of Brokeback Mountain together with Kate Moss lookalikes snorting fake cocaine and a float celebrating Dick Cheney have taken to the streets of Sydney to celebrate the city’s gay pride festival.
The celebrations of gay rights begun as a civil rights march in 1978 and in the 1980s attracted crowds of over half a million. This year’s celebrations drew in an estimated quarter of a million revellers from across the world.
120 floats with six thousand marchers included celebrations of the success of the gay cowboy drama, Brokeback Mountain. The film starred the Australian actor, Heath Ledger, who is widely tipped for the best actor award at this year’s Oscars, to be held tomorrow.
One of the most surprising entries celebrated the United States Vice President, Dick Cheney, and his decision to support gay marriages. Mr Cheney has a lesbian daughter who he is known to be very supportive of.
The event saw seven arrests but these according to Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Goodwin, those arrested were troublemakers rather than marchers or protesters.
“We want everyone to enjoy the Mardi Gras but we want to make our message clear – anti-social or criminal behaviour will not be tolerated,” Mr Goodwin said. “Our priority is crowd safety, and providing we have full co-operation from the public we anticipate an incident-free night.”
Last year, Australia’s right wing Prime Minister ruled out ever recognising gay marriages. John Howard, was reacting to the first gay marriages to be held in Britain earlier this week. “I would be opposed to it. I think marriage is for men and women. That’s why we amended the Marriage Act,” he said last year.
Mr Howard claimed that he was not seeking to discriminate against gay people but that, “marriage is exclusively a union for life of a man and a woman to the exclusion of others.”