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Mardi Gras apology and the Safe Schools debate

With Mardi Gras fast approaching, LGBTQIA+ issues have taken the forefront of the media. The two most discussed is the apology to those who attended the first ever Mardi Gras, and Safe Schools.

NSW Parliament apologises to the 1978 Mardi Gras goers

In 1978, 500 people took to Taylor Square in Darlinghurst to protest the fact that homosexuality was a criminal offence and to support the events of Stonewall.

The protest ended in violence.

The 78ers received an apology for the discrimination they experienced. Bruce Notley-Smith*, the member for Coogee, said at the apology, “For the mistreatment you suffered that evening, I apologise and I say sorry.”

“As a member of the parliament which dragged its feet in the decriminalisation of homosexual acts, I apologise and say sorry. And as a proud gay man and member of this parliament offering this apology, I say thank you.

“The actions you took on June 24, 1978, have been vindicated.”

The Sydney Morning Herald also apologized, as three days after the event Fairfax Media published the names, addressed and occupations of 53 people at the protest.

Darren Goodsir, editor-in-chief at the Sydney Morning Herald, said, “In 1978, The Sydney Morning Herald reported the names, addresses and professions of people arrested during public protests to advance gay rights. The paper at the time was following the custom and practice of the day.”

“We acknowledge and apologise for the hurt and suffering that reporting caused. It would never happen today.”

The Safe School debate

The debate regarding Safe Schools has heated up over the course of the week, with several members of parliament making comments about what they are and what they do, which is to help promote a safe and understanding environment for LGBTQIA+ students.

Queensland backbencher George Christensen commented on Safe Schools this week. He argued that, “this material is putting children at risk of being sexualised at an early age.”

“If a man exposed a child to these websites, sex clubs, sex shops and online communities on the internet we would call this a paedophile grooming a victim.”

Whilst former Prime Minister John Howard said that whilst he does sympathise with bullying, these discussions should be had at home.

He also spoke about Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s calling Cory Bernardi a homophobe.

“To say that anybody who is alarmed about this ‘Safe Schools’ booklet is a homophobe, really Mr Shorten? You are so out of touch.”

Labor’s child safety spokeswoman, Terri Butler commented on the Prime Minister’s actions regarding the debate, “I think the PM should show leadership on a range of issues but he hasn’t done it yet so I’d be shocked if he does.

* Update 29/2/2016 – name was spelled incorrectly and has since been corrected.