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Respect and inclusion is business as usual for Defence

2016 03 05 Mardi Gras DEFGLIS GForce Lead2
Two decades of the defence community united to march at the 2016 Sydney Mardi Gras parade, where respect and inclusion were simply business as usual.
 
140 Defence soldiers, sailors, airmen, public service, family and ex-service personnel marched to support sexual orientation and gender identity inclusion in Defence - which this year is business a usual given that every person has a sexual orientation and a gender identity.
 
The theme of the event was "Momentum: stronger together," and brought together 178 floats and 12,500 participants from across the community - each carrying their own unique message.
 
1996 saw the first Defence approved contingent at Mardi Gras under the bannder of G-Force. Former G-Force president David Mitchell reflected on just how far Defence culture has evolved and proud he was that participation in Mardi Gras is now supported by Defence as an official diversity and inclusion activity.
 
Mitchell spoke of a time where a Sergeant would disinfect equipment following every time after he had used it and of witch-hunts that would seek to catch gay people 'in the act'. He also spoke about the importance of not being an uninvolved bystander when you see your mates being bullied for attributes that they are born with.
 
"Being proud of who you are, being proud of each other, standing up for each other ... is going to add value to your life and other's as well," said Mitchell.
 
"Remember that those of us that are willing to stand up against discrimination - willing to stand up in defence of each other - are the most powerful force for change."
 
Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, said that Defence’s participation in the Sydney Mardi Gras parade demonstrates its commitment to evolving the Defence culture. 
 
“People are central to our capability and accordingly Defence is absolutely committed to ensuring we have a diverse, respectful and inclusive culture,” VADM Griggs said.

“The Sydney Mardi Gras is an opportunity for Defence to publically demonstrate the respect we have for diversity in the workforce and the contribution that all our people make to our mission.”

Parade Commander, Captain Christine Clarke has participated in the Mardi Gras since 2008 and was extremely proud to lead this year’s contingent.

“Being chosen to lead the Defence contingent is an honour. In doing so, I feel privileged in that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community has accepted me as a friend and ally,” CAPT Clarke said.

Squadron Leader Catherine Humphries is a DEFGLIS board member and a ground defence officer in the Air Force. She said that she was amazed and honoured to have the opportunity to lead Air Force in the parade.
 
"I am so proud of our diverse and inclusive ADF," said Humphries.
 
"As a straight ally to my professional LGB colleagues - and having gone through my own journey through intersex and gender indentity issues - I believe that by marching we clearly, and publicly, demonstrate that acceptance and we can then become a stronger force together."
 
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