Mardi Gras protest hits Sydney streets
A group of Mardi Gras protesters have hit Sydney's streets protesting against rape, the police, the lack of the usual parade and demanding rights for transgender people.
Just after 2pm, around 500 protesters gathered at Taylor Square on Sydney's iconic gay thoroughfare, Oxford Street.
Hours before the controlled post-COVID-19 era annual Mardi Gras parade was due to begin confined within the Sydney Cricket Ground, the protesters marched out in the open.
They carried placards saying, "Believe Women", "Trans Lives Matter", "From Don Dale to Nauru: No Pride in detention, no pride in prisons" and "Decriminalise sex work now".
Last year's Mardi Gras in February 2020 was the last major Sydney outdoor event before the city went into lockdown.
A large blue banner declared "No pride in police: stand in solidarity with over-policed communities".
Starting with speeches at Taylor Square, the colourful protesters then proceeded down Oxford Street chanting, "get out of the bars and on to the streets".
This was a reference to calls on the street at Sydney's very first Sydney Mardi Gras, in 1978.
Marchers danced to Madonna, banged drums and let off pink smoke canisters while waving signs saying, "No Violence, Yes Respect" and "Smile for Love".
A group of Greens party protesters held placards demanding "safer schools" and "stop police attacks"
Other protesters held up placards bearing the Aboriginal flag with last year's NAIDOC motto, "always was, always will be" (Aboriginal land).
Despite the ticketed SCG event - where 30,000 are due to gather - being the only approved outdoor Mardi Gras celebration, police and protesters did not have any physical confrontations.
NSW Police had warned against those planning to celebrate Mardi Gras in the city.
The SCG parade will feature more than 5000 people from over 100 LGBTQI+ community groups as well as a live performance from Rita Ora.
Originally published as Mardi Gras protest hits Sydney streets