NSW Parliament Will Issue An Apology To The 78ersA motion of apology will be introduced on Thursday for the mistreatment of the first Mardi Gras participants.

On Thursday 25 February 2016, the New South Wales Legislative Assembly will offer a formal apology for the ill treatment of the participants of Sydney’s first Mardi Gras. The motion is expected to be introduced at a later date to the NSW Legislative Council.

The first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras took place on 24 June, 1978, when over 500 people assembled at Taylor Square for a public demonstration and march calling for an end to the criminalisation of homosexual acts, discrimination against homosexuals and for a public celebration of love and diversity.

The apology, which has been crafted with direct input from the 78ers and has multi-partisan support, will acknowledge the abuse and suffering many of the 78ers endured and reflects the NSW Parliament’s determination to ensure discrimination and mistreatment of the LGBTQI community doesn’t continue to happen.

The upsurge of activism following the first Mardi Gras led to the 1979 repeal of the Summary Offences Act, decriminalisation of homosexual acts in 1984, and contributed to an effective community response to the HIV epidemic.

Bruce Notley-Smith, Member for Coogee, will introduce the 78ers motion of apology. He said, “On February 25 we will acknowledge the significance of the events of that night in June 38 years ago; the struggles and harm caused to the many who took part in the demonstration and march, both on that night and in the weeks, months and years to follow. Many 78ers are no longer with us; many have lived a life of hurt and pain, many took their own lives. This apology is for all of them.”

Penny Sharpe MLC, Shadow Minister for the Planning, Environment and Heritage said that the apology is long overdue and believes that with Parliament’s support, the “courageous people who refused to accept discrimination and literally put their bodies on the line in the struggle for equality” will finally be recognised.

Greens Sexuality and Gender Identity spokesperson and member for Newtown, Jenny Leonge, said the apology is not only significant in acknowledging wrongdoings in the past, “but also reminds us of the need to continue working together today for LGBTIQ equality and acceptance.”

Members of the public are encouraged to attend the 78ers Apology in the public gallery of the NSW Legislative Assembly on Thursday 25 February from 10am.