Monday 5 March 2012


Respect float at Mardi Gras, with Graeme Innes

Monday 5 March 2012

Commission shows respect at Mardi Gras

Commission staff, friends and family braved the rain and crowds to lend their support to the Sydney Madi Gras on Saturday night.

Despite the wet night and two generator failures, Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes and Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda led an entourage of Commission staff to the tune of the iconic Aretha Franklin song, Respect.

Describing the parade as fantastic, Commissioner Innes said the Commission's float, themed on the word 'respect', was greeted with cheers.

"I loved the huge amount of support the Commission received," he said.

"I didn't know that showing respect would be so much fun!"

Mr Innes, who headed the Commission's 2008 Mardi Gras float following the Commission's landmark Same Sex: Same Entitlement report, said being in the parade was about showing support for the lesbian, gay, trans and intersex communities.

"The key thing for the Commission was to reinforce our strong relationship with the community and to demonstrate our commitment to pursue rights and justice for same sex-attracted, trans and intersex people," he said.

The Commission has undertaken major policy work in the last few years including the Same Sex: Same Entitlements Report which identified 58 federal laws that discriminated against same sex couples in work and financial entitlements and played a major role in having these laws, and more, overturned.

In 2009, the Commission held consultations with members of sex and gender diverse communities about the discrimination they experienced and identified the legal recognition of sex in documents and government records as a major human rights issue.

And in 2010 the Commission conducted a consultation to canvas the experiences and views of people who had been discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity.

Commissioner Gooda said one of the best things for him about participating in the parade was hearing the crowd cheer when the Commission float passed by.

"The best moment was going along with the float and hearing all the crowd cheer in support for the work we do.

"It made us feel like all the hard work we do is worthwhile and recognised - and that was a huge buzz."