Australia’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) community has celebrated Sydney’s 30th Mardi Gras parade. The mile long parade was led by a group of “78ers” those who took part in the first parade in 1978.

But one of the “78ers”, Diane Minnis, told The Age: “It is still very difficult for young people in country towns to come out as lesbian or gay, and even in outer suburbs and regional centres.”

Marcus Bourget, New Mardi Gras Chair said; “Mardi Gras’ 30th anniversary is a milestone that would have looked like a distant reality to Mardi Gras founders. Thirty years on and we continue to draw motivation by looking back at the hard work and dedication of thousands of volunteers that have helped bring Mardi Gras this far and will continue to inspire us in the future.”

250 “Dykes on Bikes” raced around the parade route before the main party got under way.

Members of the Australian Defence Forces took part in the parade for the first time this year. Permission was granted by the Chief of the Defence Force last month. The Australian Defence Force lifted its prohibition on gay, lesbian and bisexual people serving in 1992, eight years before the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force followed suit.

100 religious ministers from a variety of religions, marched as the “100 Revs” to apologise for previous acts of discrimination towards the gay community.