The Australian Defence Force (ADF) announced this week that it has given permission for its soldiers, sailors and air men and women to march in uniform at next year’s Sydney Mardi Gras parade.
For the first time members of the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force can show their support of LGBTQI rights and their allegiance to the ADF.
Gays and lesbians have been allowed to openly serve in the military for 20 years in Australia, and the ADF have allowed members to march in the Sydney Mardi Gras parade for five years, but 2013 will be the first year they are allowed to march in uniform.
‘Many LGBTI personnel and non-LGBTI personnel have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to showcase the diversity within the Defence Force at Mardi Gras,’ said ADF LGBTI information service chair, airforce squadron leader Vince Chong, Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Chong told ABC News that the last request to march in uniform in 2006 was refused, adding:
‘It is really a great time for Defence to be participating. What this tells the international community is that the Australian Defence Force is an inclusive organization.’
Sydney Mardi Gras 2013 starts on 8 February with the 35th anniversary of the annunal parade on Saturday 2 March.