By John Connolly

MELBOURNE, February 14, 2008 ( – A well-attended Gay Pride Parade in Melbourne, Australia enjoyed the endorsement of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The Parade, which took place on February 3, was led by athletes from the Asia Pacific Outgames.

The difference between this year’s Pride March Victoria and last year’s was the enthusiastic support of Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. At the post-march celebrations, a member for Albert Park, Martin Foley, passed on a message of support from Rudd, saying his government would “continue to march towards tolerance, respect and diversity.”

The gay community expressed its happiness to have won over the Australian government, marking Rudd’s compliance as unprecedented in a Prime Minister.

“It was fabulous what Kevin Rudd said,” said Brett Hayhoe, the Pride March Victoria secretary. “It was the first time that a Prime Minister openly supported us. We certainly never received vocal and open support from a Prime Minister in the six years I have been on the board. It is most pleasing that he recognizes how diverse this community is.”

Rudd’s government also facilitated a visit from the first Asia Pacific Outgames, a multi-sport tournament for gay and lesbians. Not only did the government invite the games to be held in Melbourne, but it also provided Outgames participants with free transportation around the city.

“Outgames participants have come from as far away as South East Asia, the Pacific islands
  and even North America and Europe to enjoy this global event right here in Melbourne,” said Lynne Kosky, the Minister for Public Transportation.

“The Outgames provides a unique opportunity for members of the Asia-Pacific gay and lesbian community to come together and express themselves in a fun, safe environment. Melbourne has benefited immensely from the contributions of its gay and lesbian community and the Government is pleased to be able to facilitate smarter travel for all participants of the Outgames.”

A police band also participated in the parade, and was joined by other arts, ethnic, religious, and sporting groups.
  See previous coverage:

Australian PM Howard Says Government Will Overturn Same-Sex Union Law

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