Why ANZ’s saying yay this Mardi Gras

It’s been a big 12 months for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community. It’s been a big few decades in fact.

This year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is a celebration 40 years in the making, culminating with the passing of marriage equality into Australian law in November. 

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ANZ's Bourke Street branch

However acceptance for the community - and the celebration of Mardi Gras - has not been easy.

For many of the '78ers' - the name given to the small-but-brave group of participants from the first march held in 1978 - it’s been an enduring time of protest, hate crime and discrimination. They made huge sacrifices to pave the way for acceptance. 

"It’s not all rhinestones and sequins - the key to genuine diversity starts from within." - Darren Sibson

A lot has changed for the LGBTI community in that time, made possible from the continued protests that turned into the modern festival we know now.


Governments have reversed oppressive laws limiting the LGBTI rights, organisations embraced their vibrant and diverse workforce and now stand beside them and families are embracing their loved ones.

It’s a time to celebrate, because there’s a lot to be thankful for.

I stand proud as an openly gay man and I’m able to do so because of those who came before me and fought for our rights. I also work for an organisation that allows me to thrive and be my authentic self at work.

For 12 years ANZ has rocked up and frocked up to Mardi Gras - not as a brand but a community of LGBTI people, their family, friends and allies who are celebrating diversity, inclusion and love.

The roots of the movement are part of ANZ’s DNA and the community’s spirit is alive within many large organisations leading the charge for change.

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ANZ's Bourke Street branch

This year we’re celebrating and saying YAY!


We’re saying yay for the 78ers whose political activism paved the way for a generation of LGBT people to be their authentic selves.

We’re saying yay for same-sex couples because now they can legally wed in Australia.

We’re saying yay for young LGBTI people because they can be out and proud, and feel safer doing so.

And we’re saying YAY for our internal Pride Network, a tireless group of LGBTI colleagues and allies committed to the inclusion of everyone of diverse gender and sexual orientation.

Because it’s not all rhinestones and sequins. The key to genuine diversity starts from within. It’s time to celebrate with YAY.

A timeline to equality

• 1975 – SA decriminalises homosexuality

• 1976 – ACT decriminalises homosexuality

• 1978 – Police in Sydney arrest 53 people at the first Mardi Gras 

• 1981 – Victoria decriminalises homosexuality

• 1983 – NT decriminalises homosexuality

• 1984 – NSW decriminalises homosexuality

• 1990 – WA decriminalises homosexuality

• 1997 – Tasmania formally decriminalises homosexuality

• 2004 – The Marriage Act is amended to explicitly exclude same-sex marriage

• 2016 – NSW Police and the state government apologise to the 78ers

• 2017 –Same-sex marriage is made legal

ANZ was named LGBTI Employer of the Year in 2017 and also awarded for Transgender Inclusion.

Darren Sibson is a bluenotes contributor and leader in ANZ’s Pride Network

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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