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Hundreds of thousands of spectators celebrate gay pride at Sydney Mardi Gras

Sunday, March 3, 2013

SYDNEY, New South Wales, Australia — An estimated 10,000 revelers marched along side 115 floats on Saturday in the annual gay pride parade that celebrates Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia.

The annual event — which traces its origins in a 1978 protest march — attracted more than 300,000 spectators who stood beside politicians, military personnel and other supporters of the Australian LGBT community.

An equal marriage rights float moves up the street during the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia, Saturday, March 3, 2012.
Photo: Rob Griffith, AP

Parade participants called “Dykes on Bikes” take their traditional place at the head of the Mardi Gras Parade.
Photo: Rick Rycroft, AP

Parade participants celebrate Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia, Saturday, March 2, 2013.
Photo: Rick Rycroft, AP

A parade participant wears an elaborate headpiece during Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia, Saturday, March 2, 2013.
Photo: Rick Rycroft, AP

The theme for this year’s parade was “Generations of Love,” and many of those who took part in the first Sydney Mardi Gras 35 years ago were present. Crowds lined Sydney’s Oxford Street to enjoy the parade as dancers in flamboyant costumes and brightly colored floats moved past.

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The annual event, which contributed an estimated $30 million to the local economy — second only to the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks show — also had a largely political message.

With 2013 an election year in Australia, many are calling for same-sex marriage to be legalized in the country.

“Sydney Mardi Gras is well known as a good time, but it’s so much more than a street parade,” said Mardi Gras co-chair Peter Urmson. “It’s what we do to continue the struggle against discrimination and inequality as it impacts on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people.”

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