Current Affairs

Australian state MPs to issue apology for police brutality against Mardi Gras attendees

Joseph McCormick February 21, 2016
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MPs in the state of New South Wales will this week apologise for the treatment of people at the first Sydney Mardi Gras in 1978.

The apology will be aimed at the 78ers, those who took part in the first eve Mardi Gras, many of who were subjected to police brutality, and 53 of who were arrested.

Some were outed against their will, lost their jobs, and some took their own lives.


Liberal MP Bruce Notley-Smith is expected to announce the apology today at the Mardi Gras Fair Day.

He will move the apology motion at the state’s Legislative Assembly on Thursday.

Notley-Smith said the apology would “acknowledge the significance of the events of that [first Mardi Gras] in June 38 years ago; the struggles and harm caused to the many who took part in the demonstration and march, both on that night and in the weeks, months and years to follow”.

“Many 78ers are no longer with us; many have lived a life of hurt and pain, and many took their own lives. This apology is for all of them,” he continued.

One man who was there, reports the Guardian, was Mark Gillespie, who said he was “deeply, deeply emotional”, about the apology.

“I’m thinking of the people who are no longer around, people who have passed away. Right through that period leading up to the 1978 civil unrest nobody ever counted the number of young gay people that suicided. There’s deep deep pain still that comes out of our generation,” he said.

Another 78er, Kate Rowe, said the apology “would be very significant to me because it would be a little bit of closure”.


It was confirmed in December that Tasmania’s Parliament would formally issue an apology for historic convictions related to consensual gay sex, under laws only lifted in 1997.

Then last month, the Premier of the state of Victoria confirmed that he too would issue an official apology for its own anti-gay laws, which were lifted in 1981.



Related topics: 1978, Australia, mardi gras, Sydney

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