Dear Russia, your treatment of homosexuality doesn’t float with us. Love, Sydney.
A segment of floats to star in Sydney’s Mardi Gras festival parade on Saturday will send this tailored message to the European nation in light of its controversial stance on gay issues.
The floats – one titled “To Russia with Love” – will feature an oversized puppet, representing President Vladimir Putin as “Putin the Heartless” ogre.
While the floats will condemn Russia’s views, they will also send love to LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) people in the country.
“We wanted to do something that would both talk to our own audience and talk to a Russian audience,” Mardi Gras parade artistic director Ignatius Jones said.
“And tell them that here in Australia we are thinking about them and standing in solidarity with them.”
Mr Jones said, while there had been huge victories won in Australia, it was frightening to think one could be discriminated against because of whom they loved.
The Mardi Gras festival reached Sydney Harbour on Saturday morning when drag queen Vanity Faire arrived on the bow of the 296-metre long Queen Elizabeth cruise liner.
A vibrantly dressed Faire was perched on top of a 2.2m silver stiletto high heel, which will light up the from the front of the ship on Saturday night.
Coogee MP Bruce Notley-Smith said the Queen Elizabeth was certainly “glammed up”.
“And certainly she is the biggest Queen in Sydney today,” he told reporters.
Mr Notley-Smith said the NSW government expected the festival to draw 29,000 interstate and international visitors and inject $30 million into the economy.
This year’s parade is tipped to be bigger than in 2013, with a record 140 floats poised to make the journey down Oxford and Flinders streets.
The raising of the rainbow flag at 2pm will start the parade.
Among the parade’s eccentric features will be a nine-metre Strictly Mardi Gras trailer complete with a 98-member cast.
One of the minds behind the float, Strictly Ballroom director Baz Luhrmann, will attend the parade, as will performers Delta Goodrem and Tina Arena.
Extra police will be deployed across the CBD to monitor the influx of visitors.