The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is celebrating another year of promoting diversity and inclusion through culture, creativity and partnerships. This year more than 180 groups and communities will be marching down Oxford and Flinders Streets on Saturday the 29th of February.
This year there is also a shared feeling of confusion and disappointment among our own community as we learn there is no LGBTIQ+ Latin American and Hispanic presence at the parade this year.
With a long history of participation at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras our Latinx community has always proudly displayed through music, dance and colours the spirit of our diverse backgrounds and cultures. In 2016 the talented designer Rene Rivas , gave us “Plumage of paradise” an iconic installation and costume evolution project to celebrate Sydney Mardi Gras’ 40th aniversary. Along with an unrivaled contribution to LGBTIQ+ Latinx iconography as a costume designer in Australia, Rene Rivas (seen below with his costumes from Plumage of Paradise) is also the founder of the Latin American LGBTI Community and Friends group which is aimed at promoting multiculturalism, diversity, human rights and a social equality.
Throughout the history of the Sydney Mardi Gras diverse and multicultural groups have always found a platform to represent with pride and creativity who they are and where they come from. It is an opportunity for many multicultural groups to shine a spotlight on issues still affecting the LGBITQ+ communities in their home countries. Some other groups like Fruits from Brazil – Glamazone and LGBTIQ Latinos in Sydney will not be parading this year as applications were rejected.
Latin American countries have a long and troubled history when it comes to violence, social injustice and discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community, specifically the transgender community. In Mexico ‘Letra S’, a non-profit organisation for the defence of human rights, reported that during the last presidential administration at least 473 LGBTIQ+ people were killed with motives related to the victim’s sexual orientation or gender expression. Trans-women alone represented 261 of these victims, making them the most vulnerable group in the LGBTIQ+ community in Mexico. According to a survey by Mexico’s Human Rights Commission, in the last year 60% of LGBTIQ+ people have suffered from some form of discrimitation and more than 53% have reported suffering from verbal expressions of hate, physical abuse and/or harassment.
Mexico’s situation might not be so different from other countries in Latin America where despite progressive laws, the effective implementation of safeguards for the LGBTIQ+ community are still far from being achieved.
Brazil, Puerto Rico, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela are also experiencing issues particular to this community, crimes against transgender women, discrimination at the workplace, conservative governments lacking public health policies and elimination of previous rights granted to these communities are on the rise.
This makes the decision of not having our community represented in this year’s Sydney Mardi Gras even more painful as we have proudly used this platform to not only affect change in our home countries but celebrate a new country that has welcomed us with open arms and where many of us have found our
chosen family . (Photos Fruits from Brazil below)
The absence of the Latinx community’s presence in this year’s Mardi Gras has been received with sadness from many of us but it has also ignited our spirits with the fire of love, cohesion and solidarity we need to keep representing our valuable heritage for years to come.
We hope next year the Mardi Gras committee prioritizes multicultural LGBTIQ+ communities; which are a minority within a minority in Australia. Pride parades are an important space key for exposure and representation for multicultural communities that in many cases are still invisible. Midsumma Festival in Melbourne on the other hand still keep their Pride March parade as community based as it can possibly can. Since 2016 LAHRC has been participating brigning awareness and sharing their culture with the general Australian community. (See photos below)
We should always remember ‘what matters’ is that we remain proud of ourselves, our community and our cultures.
Article by Alfredo Landeros
“Always work hard, be honest, and be proud of who you are”- Patricia Velasquez, Venezuelan supermodel, actress and author
Latinx LGBTIQ Groups in Australia: