Less than 14 percent of the parade’s approved entrants were partners, Mardi Gras said, “with the vast corporate majority of LGBTQIA+ community groups and organisations”. However, organizers would not release the full list of 218 groups approved.
In a note to members on Tuesday, the Teachers Federation said it was “somewhat surprised” to discover the NSW Department of Education’s float was approved for the first time. Heymel said members of the union might not feel comfortable marching in that float.
A spokesman said the Education Department was proudly a diverse and inclusive workplace and “all public school staff, regardless of their union membership, are welcome and encouraged to be a part of the department’s float”.
The union’s 2022 float was nominated for best choreography, and Heymel said the group planned another elaborate display for next year. The float would have featured a large digital billboard on a truck bearing photos of teachers at regional and remote schools dressed in pride colours.
There was also a “giant, and I mean giant” apple containing four confetti cannons, Heymel said. Inside the cannons there would have been messages of pride and support from regional areas.
Furthermore, the Teachers Federation is helping to organize a conference on diversity in education during WorldPride, which will abut the festival’s main human rights conference. The union’s president Angelo Gavrielatos told the Herald: “Our association with Mardi Gras is a decades-long association. We are disappointed, we are dismayed.”
The 2023 Mardi Gras parade will return to its traditional Oxford Street route for the first time since 2020, having moved to the Sydney Cricket Ground due to COVID-19 restrictions. Separately, WorldPride includes a 50,000-strong pride march over the Sydney Harbor Bridge the following weekend.
Critics such as Pride in Protest have long condemned Mardi Gras organizers for allowing the police to march in the parade, given previous injustices perpetrated against LGBTQ people, and criticized the level of participation from sponsors such as Qantas, ANZ and Vodafone.
Sydney WorldPride also copped a backlash from members of the community when prohibitively expensive tickets went on sale in July. They included $179 for a party on Bondi Beach, $119 for a concert in The Domain and nearly $1500 to attend at three-day human rights conference.
Despite the expense, many tickets sold out within minutes. In August, organizers announced LGBTQ activists could apply for a scholarship to attend the human rights conference for free. Entries closed last week.
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