(5pm, Sydney Town Hall)
Thank you and welcome, everyone, to our sixth proud annual Rainbow Flag raising here at Town Hall.
It is always a challenge to speak publically at the front of Town Hall on busy George Street. It is especially challenging to speak at 5.30pm on a Friday night. I will not acknowledge our important guests individually.
So welcome to you all - the Co-Chairs, Board members and CEO of Mardi Gras, Members of Parliament, Mayors and Councillors including the Deputy Lord Mayor of the City and City Councillors, members of the Police Force and especially the 78'ers.
We at the City are strong supporters of Mardi Gras - we've renewed our sponsorship for a further three years; raised a temporary Rainbow Flag at Taylor Square on top of the 200 banners we fly regularly and we plan to install a permanent artwork in 2018 for the 40th anniversary, and we will again have a fabulous City float in the Parade, to underline our commitment to equality, social justice and diversity.
We continue our support for AIDS Awareness Week and World AIDS Day, and during Mardi Gras, ACON's HIV Rapid Testing site will open on Oxford Street.
And we proudly supported the 7th Bingham Cup, the championship trophy for the gay rugby union world, established to challenge homophobic stereotypes in sport.
This year, we're celebrating 25 years of the NSW Police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers - the GLLOs - and 100 years of women in policing.
25 Years and GLLO-ing, will be launched tonight in Sydney Square. It is a visual history of the program which has brought police together with the LGBTIQ community to improve relationships - and we now have 176 GLLOs across NSW.
But despite great gains, challenges remain, including marriage equality and discrimination by educational institutions.
As well we need to support our youngest community members and our transgender and intersex communities. And there needs to be greater awareness of domestic and family violence.
So in raising the Rainbow Flag on Town Hall tonight, we commit ourselves to continue to work with you on those issues, while celebrating all that is unique about your community, and all it has given to Sydney.
I hope to see you all in the Parade. It will be my 29th year of involvement with Mardi Gras, and as I said, our City float will underline our commitment as a City to equality, social justice and diversity.