Sydney Mardi Gras organisers have launched a stinging attack on the Australian Prime Minister’s stance on same-sex marriage.

The federal government of John Howard has rejected calls for Australian gay and lesbian couples to be allowed to have same-sex marriages or civil unions.

The Liberal leader has spoken out against gay rights on many occasions.

In 2004 the government passed the Marriage Amendment Act, which stops the courts recognising the validity of same-sex relationships.

Lex Lindsay, Queer Screen’s Festival Manager commented, “Australia’s gay and lesbian community are treated like second class citizens by Australia’s Federal Government.

“John Howard would be screaming from the rooftops if his marriage wasn’t recognised by the government, yet this is just one of the many basic rights that the gay community is still denied here in Australia.

“I invite Mr Howard to try walking a mile in our shoes, come and see some these films, and then tell us why we don’t deserve to be treated equally.”

Sydney Mardi Gras is internationally famous for the parade, but is in fact a four week festival with a range of cultural and social events like Fair Day and the launch and after-parade parties.

The parade traditionally features floats with caricatures and effigies of hate figures in the gay community, which could feature Mr Howard.

Last year US Vice President was lampooned along with Brokeback Mountain.

The post-parade dance party normally attracts around 20,000 revellers, making it one of the biggest events in Australia.

This year’s parade is on March 3rd.