The content originally appeared on: CNN
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has become the first leader of the country to take part in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in the event’s 45-year history.
In other parts of the world, Mardi Gras is held the day before the Christian fasting season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which occurred earlier this week.
However, in Australia, the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras this year is taking place between February 17 and March 5.
It celebrates LGBTQIA+ identity and diversity, champions creative expression and challenges injustice, according to the organizers. Thousands are estimated to have attended.
“When the first Mardi Gras march was held in 1978, you could still be arrested for being gay,” Albanese tweeted on Saturday.
At that event police arrested 53 people and the celebration ended in violence.
“In the decades since, people dedicated their lives toward the campaign for equality,” the Prime Minister added.
“To be accepted as equal and recognized for who they are and who they love,” he continued.
“I’ve been proudly marching in Mardi Gras since the 80s. This year I’m honored to be the first Prime Minister to join the march,” Albanese said.
Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull attended Mardi Gras in 2016 but did not march, according to the Australian Associated Press.