Inclusivity and acceptance – we’re all one team

For the first time since 2020, 60 Defence personnel took to Sydney’s Oxford Street, with more than 12,000 other participants, to celebrate the 2023 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.

CAPTION: Defence LGBTI Information Service President Lieutenant Rachel Cosgrove takes part in the 2023 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on Oxford Street, Sydney. Story and photo by Private Nicholas Marquis.

With Sydney being this year’s host of WorldPride, inclusivity and acceptance was at the heart of the colourful parade.

There wasn’t a gap in the crowds, with some onlookers spilling out onto the main street.

Attending his second Mardi Gras as an LGBTI Champion, and his fourth overall, Major General Anthony Rawlins said the event demonstrates that you can merge several identities.

“Being able to [march] in uniform shows you can seamlessly merge your professional identity with your personal identity,” Major General Rawlins said.

The Defence contingent was led by the ADFA pipes and drums, entertaining the crowd with their melodies and high spirits.

“Why would we seek to recognise artificial partitions that won’t make a lick of difference on the battlefield?” Major General Rawlins said.

“If you need help, you’re not going to care about a person’s race, orientation or political views.

“At the end of the day, we’re all a team.”

Defence celebrated four anniversaries at this year’s Mardi Gras:

  • 30 years since the ban on open gay service was lifted
  • 20 years since the Defence LGBTI Information Service was established
  • 13 years of allowing transgender people to serve in the ADF
  • 10 years of ADF members marching in the Mardi Gras in uniform.






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If you are offended by this story or the resulting comments, free and confidential mental health support for veterans and families is available through Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling service, and can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 1800 011 046.

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10 thoughts on “Inclusivity and acceptance – we’re all one team

  • 06/03/2023 at 8:24 am

    In my opinion It’s ridiculous,

    Talk about being one army etc blah blah. However if you’re gay, bi, trans, apache helicopter, then you will have the world flipped upside down for you. If you’re straight and have a different opinion then you’re sexist and or racist.

    I don’t care if you’re gay, just don’t look at me with a twinkle in your eye.

    If you’re in the Army then you’re green, Navy Blue, Airforce… well I won’t go there. You’re not rainbow coloured, we’re all one team. This doesn’t promote inclusiveness but quite the contrary.

    And for the generation that are joining the ADF getting offended by absolutely eveything, try telling our enemies that you’re offended when they’re trying to take you or you’re mates life, not to mention seeing bodies torn apart by 155mm shells like the Russians and Ukrainians are experiencing.

    We’ll see how well Mr Marls’ decision is to bring back the luncheon etc when we’re on a 2 way range.

  • 05/03/2023 at 9:54 pm

    I remember back in the day, an old chief stoker being found in bed with a young recruit at CERBERUS [about 1977 or so] Even though he was close to his pension, he was gone from the RAN within 7 days.

    Ah the good old days.

    Have you ever spent 6 months as a 17 yr old trainee Submariner, dodging the sexual advances of not one but two raving homosexuals???…..I have….and that was back when it would get you an immediate dishonourable discharge if ‘discovered’….Imagine how bad that situation might be for that Sailor today, potentially surrounded by them.

  • 05/03/2023 at 6:29 pm

    February 1976. Kapooka. 3PL A Coy.

    I was fresh out of High School and probably too young to be there, but I was determined (and a little frightened!).

    I didn’t know sh*t from clay, and luckily an older guy (30ish) in my room who’d been a Chef, took me under his wing.
    I was forever indebted to him, for among other things, teaching me how to make Rice Pudding out of a Rat Pack.

    It make me feel like a King, sitting in countless wet holes over the following years of Exercising around our great, brown Land, to make up something as delicious and favoursome as that, out of yet another bloody Rat Pack!

    He was a good bloke and good recruit.

    So Week 3 or 4, yet another room inspection.
    They’re tearing apart our gear, (as they do), when they find his Stick Books.
    Except there’s no girls in them, only guys!
    Nothing was said, just hard stares and mumbling by the Corporals.

    That night. 0300?
    5 or 6 blokes burst into our darkened room, and jumped this bloke.
    They stuffed socks in his mouth, tied his arms and legs with the same.
    Then they picked him up and threw him out the window, from the 3rd Floor, to where he landed on the concrete apron below.
    They turned to us and roared ”Shut your f*cking mouths and stay in f*cking bed!”
    So we did.

    The Picquet found him an hour later and called the Guard commander, who called the Duty Officer, who called the Med Centre, who send the Ambulance., and we never saw him again.
    He was Medically Discharged with a broken Pelvis and broken Arm.
    Apparently, he couldn’t deal with the Training, and had tried to top himself!

    Obviously, things must have changed a lot in the Army since then, but I do find it hard to believe.


    • 06/03/2023 at 1:17 pm

      Post Script to Recruit Training.

      Later that year after I.E.T. Training, I marched into ‘X’ Battalion in Brisbane.
      I quickly learned the favourite off-Duty pastime was not ‘Drinking’, but ‘Getting Pissed”.
      In turn, the second favourite off-Duty pastime for a notable number of Diggers, was ‘Poofter Bashing’ in Fortitude Valley and New Farm.
      Can you imagine the trauma and injuries from being caught and (at least), bashed and beaten by those lunatics?

      I’m certain if investigations follow the current N.S.W. Commission into Gay Hate Murders of the 70’s and 80’s, they’d likely turn up some embarrassing evidence for the A.D.F.


  • 05/03/2023 at 6:18 pm

    What an absolute disgrace, for the ADF to be marching in an absolute disgusting show of homosexualality for all the world to see. I’m very well aware that in today’s society we’re supposed to be all inclusive, but are they really inclusive of other people opinions and beliefs. Absolutely not.

    • 10/03/2023 at 8:21 am

      Only disgrace here is you. Keep your homophobic views to yourself. The last thing this world needs is more negativety.

      You’re right about people saying they are ‘all inclusive’ when obviously they aren’t. Cause obviously they don’t mean they are inclusive for homophobes, racists and sexists.

  • 05/03/2023 at 5:31 pm

    Surely this creates the very artificial partitions that the General doesn’t want recognised.

  • 05/03/2023 at 3:50 pm

    I think its all been said, certainly don’t think this adds to operational readiness in any way.

    • 05/03/2023 at 4:52 pm

      Yeah, if it’s all one big team, why make a big deal of a minority?

    • 10/03/2023 at 8:31 am

      Does playing golf on the weekend add to operational readiness?
      Does playing with your kids after work add to operational readiness?
      Does going to the pub and enjoying a beer with your mates add to operational readiness?

      No they don’t. But they are how defence force personnel spend their free time.

      So why can’t defence personnel spend their free time enjoying the company of their peers? That just so happens to be a march for world pride?


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