Inclusivity and acceptance – we’re all one team


For the first time since 2020, about 60 Defence personnel took to Sydney’s Oxford Street to celebrate the 2023 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.

With Sydney being this year’s host of WorldPride, inclusivity and acceptance was at the heart of the colourful parade.

There wasn’t a gap in the crowds, with some onlookers spilling out onto the main street.

Attending his second Mardi Gras as an LGBTI Champion, and his fourth overall, Major General Anthony Rawlins said the event demonstrates that you can merge several identities.

“Being able to [march] in uniform shows you can seamlessly merge your professional identity with your personal identity,” Major General Rawlins said.

Joining 12,500 parade participants, the Defence contingent was led by the ADFA pipes and drums, entertaining the crowd with their melodies and high spirits.

“Why would we seek to recognise artificial partitions that won’t make a lick of difference on the battlefield?” Major General Rawlins said.

“If you need help, you’re not going to care about a person’s race, orientation or political views.

“At the end of the day, we’re all a team.”

Defence celebrated four anniversaries at this year’s Mardi Gras:

  • 30 years since the ban on open gay service was lifted
  • 20 years since the Defence LGBTI Information Service was established
  • 13 years of allowing transgender people to serve in the ADF
  • 10 years of ADF members marching in the Mardi Gras in uniform.

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