LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation reflects on Sydney Mardi Gras 2024 

The 2024 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival may be over, but memories of the incredible night at the 46th anniversary of the parade on Saturday, 2 March are still vivid for LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness (DVA) Foundation (the Foundation).

The Foundation were given their position in the parade by Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ pro bono legal partner of more than 25 years, law and consulting firm MinterEllison. Like the Foundation, MinterEllison believes everyone deserves the right to live a life free from violence and abuse.

The Foundation are long term community partners of MinterEllison and were proud to represent them given their alignment of shared values in the important awareness-raising and advocacy of LGBTQIA+ people experiencing domestic violence, especially those who encounter barriers to access in mainstream services. MinterEllison has provided pro bono and other support to the Foundation since its inception in 2020.

In the parade, the Foundation’s message was #seenandbelieved, a powerful statement made at a time when it has never been more important to amplify. Research shows domestic and intimate partner violence is experienced by more than 60% of the LGBTQIA+ community and is vastly under-reported. The Foundation’s director Ben Bjarnesen says it can also go unrecognised because mainstream coverage of the issues focuses on heterosexual relationships.

He says it’s important the LGBTQIA+ community knows there are resources out there for them, which is why they landed on this theme for this year’s parade, so people know they can get support.

Marching in the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade as the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation for the very first time was an experience our team of dedicated volunteers will never forget. Walking down Oxford Street marked by our message ‘SEEN and BELIEVED’ was not only a moment of joy and validation, but also a poignant reminder of the struggles and challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people impacted by domestic and family violence. Knowing that the millions of people lining the streets and tuning in via their TVs would see our messages of hope and support was incredibly emotional for our Foundation. These feelings of pride and hope of our work were only amplified by the welcoming and electric atmosphere of the Mardi Gras Parade, and by the Minter Ellison employees who marched with us.

We extend our deepest gratitude to Minter Ellison for their generous support, which enabled us to be part of this significant event. Their contribution allowed us to amplify our message and raise awareness of domestic and family violence occurring in LGBTQ+ communities.
Ben Bjarnesen, Founder & Managing Director, LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation

MinterEllison is deeply proud to support the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation. Although I did not march in this year’s Mardi Gras parade, witnessing our firm’s participation was incredibly meaningful. It highlighted the pressing issue of domestic violence within LGBTQ+ communities, a cause we are committed to supporting. Our firm’s decision to give up our platform to another voice at the event was a significant one. It underscores our dedication to amplifying those who do not have the same opportunities that we do. The day was a success, radiating unity, advocacy and solidarity. This experience has shown us the power in stepping back to let others lead. I urge other corporate partners to consider doing the same – to lend their platforms to those voices that need to be heard.  

We look forward to continuing our support of the important work of the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation.
Gordon Williams, Partner, MinterEllison

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic, family or intimate partner violence, visit the Foundation’s website for further resources and support services.

You can also find the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation on LinkedIn and on Instagram.