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Sydney is set to hold WorldPride in 2023, becoming the first ever host city in the southern hemisphere. 

The biennial WorldPride festival is an acknowledgment of LGBTQ issues “through parades, festivals, and other cultural activities.” The event will be held in February and March to align with Sydney’s famous annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. 

The Australian city was revealed as the victorious bidder on Sunday at a convention for InterPride, the international association of pride organizations, in Athens. Sydney received 60% of votes from InterPride members, with fellow bidding cities Montreal and Houston coming in second and third, receiving 36% and 3% of votes, respectively. 

"This is a major win for Sydney, Australia, and the region more broadly," Giovanni Campolo-Arcidiaco, co-chair of Sydney Mardi Gras, the group behind Sydney’s WorldPride proposal, said in a press release

The Sydney Mardi Gras team specifically included in their bid the importance of acknowledging the “unique challenges” faced by the Asia-Pacific region’s LGBTQ community.

"LGBTQ communities in the region experience some of the worst human rights abuses in the world, but the region is very under-represented in InterPride," the bid read. “Many of our closest neighboring countries do not have the same level of equality and human rights as we do.”

Most nations in the Southeast-Asian region lack LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws; have provisions that make same-sex sexual activity illegal; and forbid citizens from changing their legal gender. Brunei, an Islamic state on the island of Borneo, recently sparked global outrage over plans to impose the death penalty for gay sex. 

New Zealand, Australia, and Taiwan are the only nations in the Asia-Pacific region to have legalized gay marriage. 

Australian politicians overwhelmingly responded positively to Sunday’s announcement.

New South Wales Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres expects the festival to attract more than one million visitors to Sydney and generate an economic footprint of over $664 million AUD, according to the ABC. Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham echoed Ayres’ comments, announcing that holding the festival in Sydney was “absolutely fitting.”

"It is absolutely fitting that Australia and particularly Sydney celebrate our diversity through such a symbolic event that will also deliver a huge boost to our tourism industry," Birmingham wrote on Twitter. “We are proud to have helped and look forward to an event not to be missed.”

WorldPride was first held in Rome in 2000. 

The event occurred every six years between 2000 and 2012 — with Jeresulsam taking charge in 2006, and London in 2012. In 2014, the festival was hosted by Toronto, followed by Madrid in 2017, and finally, New York City in June.

In 2021, WorldPride will be held by two cities for the first time: Danish capital Copenhagen and Malmo, Sweden.


Demand Equity

Sydney Wins Bid to Host WorldPride LGBTQ Festival 2023

By Madeleine Keck