Mardi Gras crowds of over 36,000 pack cricket ground hours after hundreds march in protest
More than 36,000 people are have packed into the Sydney Cricket Ground tonight for the official Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade — a ticketed and socially distanced event this year due to coronavirus restrictions.
The SCG parade will feature more than 5000 people from over 100 LGBTQI+ community groups as well as a live musical performances.
Thousands of tickets have also been sold to private parties around Sydney, with police issuing a warning to those planning to celebrate in the city.
It comes after close to 600 protesters made their way down Sydney’s Oxford Street this afternoon, marching for LGBTQI+ rights ahead of tonight’s event at Moore Park.
The peaceful gathering, organised by activist group Pride in Protest, was granted an exemption yesterday from NSW Health COVID-19 restrictions.
NSW Health granted the exemption to exceed the current cap of 500 people at protests after negotiations with event organisers to facilitate easier contact tracing at the event.
The group is marching for LGBTQI+ rights and is took the same route as protesters during the first 1978 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
While police withdrew an application to have the exemption denied, there is still a heavy presence of law enforcement ensuring things don’t get out of hand at the protest.