An inclusive and supportive Navy on the march

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Anthony Martin (author), Mrs Megan Popelier (photographer)

Location(s): Sydney, NSW

Topic(s): Diversity and Inclusivity

The Royal Australian Navy contingent assembles prior to marching at the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. (photo: Mrs Megan Popelier)
The Royal Australian Navy contingent assembles prior to marching at the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.

A Navy contingent joined Army and Air Force members and Defence civilians in the 42nd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade on Saturday night.

The Defence representatives joined more than 200 other groups in the parade, marching through streets lined with 300,000 supportive spectators.

Defence members have proudly marched in uniform at the event since 2013.

The Parade provides an opportunity for Defence members to march with pride for their Service and demonstrate their support for the LGBTI community.

Warrant Officer of the Navy Deb Butterworth led the Navy contingent in the parade and said it was important for the service to allow its people to be their authentic selves, enabling them to contribute diverse perspectives to problem solving and strategic thinking.

“Defence, including Navy, is an increasingly diverse and inclusive organisation that actively supports all its members regardless of their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

“A high performing workforce that respects the diverse skills and experiences of all its members is a direct contributor to Defence capability,” WO-N Butterworth said.

For DEFGLIS board member Lieutenant Rachael Cosgrove, attending the event was a significant highlight.

“I’m a proud member of the LGBTIQA+ community and I have served for over 20 years.

“It makes me extremely proud that as Defence members we can wear our uniform and parade in the Mardi Gras with all of the other supporting organisations that come together on this night of inclusion, respect and support,” she said.

Lieutenant Cosgrove said it was a privilege-not-taken-lightly to be able to wear uniform in the parade. 

“Mardi Gras for a LGBTIQA+ person is an amazing event. 

“Now that it includes wearing our uniform, we have so much to stand and be proud of,” Lieutenant Cosgrove said. 

The Defence Gay and Lesbian Information Service (DEFGLIS) is a non-partisan volunteer charity that supports LGBTI serving members, ex-serving members and veterans of the Australian Defence Force and their families. More information can be found at https://www.defglis.com.au.

The Royal Australian Navy contingent marching in the 42nd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade on Saturday 29 February 2020.

The Royal Australian Navy contingent marching in the 42nd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade on Saturday 29 February 2020.