A little history
One frosty June night in 1978, a gay rights protest in Sydney wrapped up with what was meant to be a festive and celebratory parade. An estimated 1,000 revelers showed up in costume, looking for a good time. Instead, they encountered a phalanx of police, who informed them that the parade permit had been rescinded, and ordered them to break up.
A riot broke out. By nights end, 53 people had been arrested, and countless more bloodied. That night is marked as Sydney's first Mardi Gras.
Today, the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras is Australias biggest public celebration of any sort, gay or straight. The festive parade is followed by the worlds biggest gay party: 22,000 people dancing in 3 giant halls. TV and radio crews come from some 15 countries to cover the parade, which is shown live on national Australian television. By most accounts, the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras has passed Rio as the worlds largest Mardi Gras.