Rainbow hijab a first for Sydney's 40th Mardi Gras
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Rainbow hijab a first for Sydney's 40th Mardi Gras

While the rainbow flag may be flying all over the city to celebrate Sydney's 40th Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras this weekend, watch for a new fashion trend among the glitter and the sequins: the rainbow hijab.

MOGA, a Muslim-owned fashion label that produces hijabs and head scarves for Islamic women, first created the "Pride" headscarf during last year's same-sex marriage debate in a show of support for the LGBTQI community. The silk scarf sold out within six days. The Melbourne-based fashion company, which has a large Islamic following, has now produced a special Mardi Gras-themed headscarf, in what's believed to be a first for a Muslim-owned fashion label.

Zali Ghelardini, Kalida Edwards, Maya Weiss and Mable Syrup model the rainbow hijabs they will wear for the Sydney Gay Mardi Gras.

Zali Ghelardini, Kalida Edwards, Maya Weiss and Mable Syrup model the rainbow hijabs they will wear for the Sydney Gay Mardi Gras.

Photo: Justin McManus.

"Our fans range from trendy Muslim 'hijabsters' to festivalgoers to drag queens," said Azahn Munas, the creative director of the Melbourne-based company.

"We really weren't sure how the religious community would react because we thought a lot of Muslims were intolerant to the gay and lesbian community.

"But we learnt this is a bit of a misconception – many of my friends in the Islamic community have LGBTQI friends or are LGBTQI themselves.

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"We were thrilled with the response to our initial release selling out in six days. We did however manage to save our very last scarf to send to our former prime minister, Tony Abbott, who was sadly one of the most vocal supporters of the no campaign."

Mr Munas, 24, is a Sri Lankan Muslim who moved to Australia with his family at the age of seven. He started his company when a number of his Islamic friends complained that there was nothing colourful or bold about headscarf fashion.

"We hope the 'Pride' scarf will be the 'must have' accessory for the Mardi Gras festival, march or gay wedding," Mr Munas said.

Sydney's 40th Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras kicks off today with a Fair Day at Victoria Park, Camperdown which includes stalls from the 78ers (the likes of Julie McCrossin and other attendees of Sydney's first Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 1978, which ended in violence and arrests) and Dykes on Bikes. There will be a Game of Bones Dog Pageant as Sydney's finest dogs battle it out for the coveted titles of Best Dressed, Most Talented and Best In Show.

Next Saturday (February 24) Koori Gras, featuring Aboriginal gay performers, will take place at Carriageworks and at Luna Park there will be a family fun day for LGBTQI families. The festival culminates in the Mardi Gras Parade on March 3, with over 200 floats expected to make their way down Oxford Street.

Helen Pitt

Helen Pitt is a journalist at the The Sydney Morning Herald.

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