Federal Politics

License article

Malcolm Turnbull to become the first sitting PM to attend Sydney Mardi Gras

Malcolm Turnbull will risk a backbench backlash by becoming the first sitting Australian prime minister to attend Mardi Gras.

Mr Turnbull will attend the gay and lesbian march in Sydney on Saturday night, although he is not expected to march like his Labor counterpart. Bill Shorten will be the first federal leader of a major party to participate in the march.

Up Next

Mariah Carey's blunt response about James Packer

Video duration

More Life Videos

SMH's Mardi Gras survival guide

Make your 2016 Mardi Gras a night to remember for all the right reasons.

A spokesperson for Mr Turnbull confirmed the prime minister would attend the event, which he typically attends every year because it is in his electorate.

The move may rile some Coalition conservatives, who have previously warned it would be "dangerous" for the PM to attend.

However conservative MPs contacted on Saturday declined to comment.

Mr Turnbull has also written a message for the festival guide, calling Mardi Gras "a celebration of Australia's diversity".


"The hard work and commitment of Sydney's LGBTQI community has seen this event grow to a festival drawing visitors to Sydney from around the world. However, we cannot forget the history of Mardi Gras and the ongoing need to promote inclusion and deliver equality for all Australians," he said in the message.

Same-sex marriage remains a fractious issue for the Coalition.

Mr Turnbull has continued with Tony Abbott's policy of holding a public plebiscite even though he has previously advocated for a free vote in Parliament. However the party's right-wing has sought to undermine the plebiscite process.

Mr Shorten said he was delighted to be attending Mardi Gras with his wife, kids and Labor Party colleagues in support of marriage equality.

"We're on the cusp of achieving marriage equality and for me there's never been a more exciting time to attend Mardi Gras for the first time," he said.

"Mardi Gras is a fantastic celebration of LGBTI culture, and a powerful demonstration of the ongoing fight against discrimination.

"Marriage equality is a simple, overdue change to Australian law that could be made a reality today if Malcolm Turnbull would just grant his MPs a free vote."

Mardi Gras CEO Michele Bauer said Mr Shorten's participation was significant.

"It means a great deal," Ms Bauer told Sky News on Saturday. "The fact that our issues are being taken seriously, the fact that we are being accepted fully into the community, that our voices are being listed to."

Mr Shorten says Labor will introduce a bill to legalise same-sex marriage within 100 days if it wins the election.