On April 27, 2015, Christine Foster, a Liberal Party councillor and the sister of the then Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, moved a motion at the Sydney City Council calling for a formal apology to the original gay and lesbian Mardi Gras marchers.
It was passed unanimously. The NSW Parliament is expected to debate a motion to offer such an apology in the first sitting of Parliament in 2016.
Is a formal apology warranted?
To answer this question, some understanding of the prevailing oppressive social conditions affecting the lives of sexual minorities (now termed GLBTIQ communities) in Australia in the 1960s and 70s is required.
What is needed, too, is a better knowledge of the actual, momentous events that took place in Sydney between June and August 1978, when violent social unrest and public protests on the streets erupted with far-reaching effects for Australia that can now be seen in historical context.
The march of 78
On a cold Saturday night in Sydney on June 24, 1978, a number of gay men, lesbians and transgender people marched into the pages of Australian social history. I was one of them.
Several protests and demonstrations were organised during June that year to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riot in New York and to demand civil rights for Australian lesbians and gay men.
Gay activists in San Francisco had asked the Gay Solidarity Group in Sydney for support in their campaigns in California and the word had got out. At Taylor Square, where we assembled, I was impressed by the turnout (a report in The Australian estimated the crowd at about 1,000 people at this early stage of the night). Read more via the Conversation