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Mardi Gras welcomes young lawyers to the party
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Mardi Gras welcomes young lawyers to the party

A contingent of NSW Young Lawyers will make their first debut at the 2017 Sydney Mardi Gras Parade next weekend.

The iconic Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras pride march down Sydney’s Oxford and Flinders streets this year will include a float of 40 young lawyers, celebrating the spirit of equality.

The group of loud and proud lawyers will participate in the pride march waving specially made placards. Each sign will feature an important legal gain made by the LGBTIQ community over the years.

NSW Young Lawyers president Emily Ryan (pictured) spoke to Lawyers Weekly about preparations in the lead-up to the parade.

“The placards talk about various law reform wins that have happened for the LGBTIQ community over the years, including things like equal adoption rights, the recognition of non-binary gender by the High Court of Australia. We also mention that marriage equality is yet to happen as one of the features as well,” Ms Ryan said.

For a year now, a team of five executive councilors from the group, which represents the interests of legal practitioners in NSW who are under 36 or in their first five years of practice, developed a concept for the proposed Mardi Gras float.

Ms Ryan, along with James Skelton, Stephanie Triefus, Holly Ritson and Alex Sprouster, coordinated efforts to realise the vision.

“Because we are a representative organisation, for lawyers and young lawyers in particular, we really wanted to focus on the rule of law and the access to justice element,” Ms Ryan said.

“The NSW Young Lawyers office has been a wonderful support as well, keeping us on the right track and getting a designer involved. It’s going to look very professional,” she said.  

While the group’s Mardi Gras message is not the antithesis of black letter law, Ms Ryan promised a colourful display.

“We’ve got a great, big banner that says ‘Equality under the law’, and it’s in rainbow colours and has the Young Lawyers' logo on it,” Ms Ryan said.

Mardi Gras, now in its 39th year, was borne from an act of political protest in 1978. The occasion has now become a quintessential feature of the Sydney social calendar. This will be the first time NSW Young Lawyers has participated in the event.  

Only a handful of spaces remain for those wishing to register for the NSW Young Lawyers Mardi Gras float.

Not only will the group be out in force for the Mardi Gras parade, the NSW Young Lawyers family law committee is hosting a free skills workshop on 1 March to coincide with the event. The program about working with LGBTIQ clients in legal proceedings will feature presentations from retired High Court judge Michael Kirby AC CMG, Inner City Legal Centre director Vicki Harding and University of Tasmania legal academic Dr Olivia Rundle.

Ms Ryan added that it is important for NSW Young Lawyers to lend its voice to the issues of equality before the law. She said that the Mardi Gras season is a wonderful platform to focus on access to justice and rule of law issues as they affect the LGBTIQ community.

“I think that it’s vital we have a public view on this and this is the perfect opportunity for us to do that with regards to LGBTIQ issues,” Ms Ryan said.

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