Pride: Why do we still need parades?

Content warning: This explainer discusses assault, homophobia, bullying and mental health.

World Pride has officially kicked off in Sydney, bringing together thousands of people from around the globe to celebrate one simple message of acceptance.

The 17-day festival is expected to host more 500,000 people over 300 events.

It also marks the 45th Sydney Mardi Gras Festival as well as more than 50 years of Pride celebrations in New Zealand.

Why is it so important that we still mark and celebrate Pride after all these years?

Pride history

Pride history

It's no secret glitter, drag queens, and questionable underwear make up any good Pride festival. 

Mostly though, it's about activism.  

Coming out in the '70s in Aotearoa, as well as around the world, was dangerous and potentially life threatening.

Homosexuality was stigmatised, criminalised and persecuted accordingly.

But demonstrations to speak out for the queer community kicked off on June 27, 1970.

Ngahuia Te Awekotuku

Lesbian and Māori rights activist Ngahuia Te Awekotuku was nominated to study in the United States, planning to research gay liberation.

But her visa was stalled on the grounds of 'sexual deviance'.

She gave a rousing keynote at the University of Auckland, challenging Kiwis to openly talk about their own sexuality and "start gay liberation".

It was followed by marches and protests across the country, which still happen today.

New Zealand then had its first official Pride celebration in April 1972, called 'Gay Day'.

Activists gathered in Auckland's Albert Park chanting 'will Victorian morality ever die?'

Pride today

Pride today

Pride marches and celebrations now happen annually around the country with many companies pledging their support for the rainbow community.

Former New Zealand rugby player Campbell Johnstone became the first All Black to publicly come out as gay on January 30.

Campbell Johnstone

At the time he said he hoped to "take away the pressure and the stigma" of doing so publicly.

And by in large, being part of the LGBTTQIA+ community today is widely more accepted.

The numbers tell a different story

Rainbow communities are still as vulnerable as ever.

Rainbow communities are still as vulnerable as ever, however.

According to the latest research done by Auckland University, queer children in school are three times more likely to be hurt or bullied.

It found one in eight rainbow people had moved towns or cities to feel safer.

One in six of those no longer felt safe at school and almost two-thirds of those surveyed thought about suicide.

Pride and crime

Te Tāhū o te Ture, New Zealand's Crime and Victim's Survey, found 68% of bisexual adults — compared to the national average of 28% — experienced crime and sexual violence.

Ministry of Justice Deputy Secretary Sector Tim Hampton says, "as each of our general and topical reports show, there are many vulnerable communities that need our focus and support when it comes to crime and victimisation, and the LGB+ community is certainly one of them".

Read more: Opinion: Good riddance to 'conversion therapy'

Around the world, 71 countries still consider homosexuality a crime.

Half of those countries are Commonwealth countries, which still class being transgender as a mental disorder.

Countries where conversion therapy banned

And when it comes to conversion therapy, only eight countries in the world have banned it.

New Zealand passed legislation to ban the practice in February 2022.


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