Why this 16-metre-wide rainbow dress is on display on Sydney

Actor Suzy Wrong models Amsterdam Rainbow Dress made of 71 flags in Sydney Harbour.
Image: Cassandra Hannagan

A giant, colourful dress made from the flags of the 71 countries where it remains illegal to be LGBTIQ+ has come to Australia ahead of Sydney WorldPride this summer.

The Amsterdam Rainbow Dress is over 3.5 metres high and 16 metres in diameter. The Dutch garment travels the world as both an artwork and human rights snapshot to encourage awareness of LGBTQIA+ human rights issues.

The dress is sewn from the flags of the dozens of countries criminalising LGBTIQ+ communities, as compiled by ILGA World. When countries replace them with progressive laws, their national flags are replaced by rainbow flags on the garment.

This week, Sydney actor, theatre critic and trans woman, Suzy Wrong (above), modelled the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress in Sydney Harbour, in solidarity with the trans community.

One of the creators of the dress, Arnout Van Krimpen, explained the art is “a symbol of freedom – the most precious thing we have.”

“The choice to exclude LGBTQIA+ people from legal protection doesn’t just endanger the community but society as a whole,” Van Krimpen said.

“As well as advocating to end anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, this work of art highlights the importance of preserving the freedoms we have won.”

Amsterdam Rainbow Dress comes to Australia ahead of Sydney WorldPride

This week, the monumental Amsterdam Rainbow Dress artwork has come to Australia for the first time, to spotlight human rights issues affecting the global LGBTQIA+ community, ahead of Sydney WorldPride’s Human Rights Conference in March 2023.

Sydney WorldPride CEO Kate Wickett, said in Australia, “many of us are lucky now to live relatively safe lives thanks to tireless campaigning for equal rights.”

“But there are still many issues that affect LGBTQIA+ communities right across Australia, especially for trans and gender-diverse people,” she added.

This summer, Sydney will host the city’s WorldPride mega-festival for the first time in the southern hemisphere.

Sydney WorldPride will coincide with the 45th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival, featuring the usual Mardi Gras events, including the Parade back on Oxford Street.

Additionally, WorldPride will also take over Sydney with new events, including multiple concerts, parties, marches, and First Nations events.

Sydney hosting landmark Human Rights Conference

Around 1,500 community leaders, activists, politicians and human rights experts will also come from across the globe to the Sydney WorldPride Human Rights Conference on March 1 to 3.

“The Human Rights Conference is a major opportunity for community leaders, lawmakers and human rights experts from across the world to come together,” CEO Kate Wickett said.

“For the Asia Pacific region, it is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity and enduring spirit of the LGBTQIA+ community, and to push for progress at home and internationally.”

Sydney WorldPride have confirmed a total of 18 speakers at the conference.

Topics will include protection of LGBTQIA+ refugees and people seeking asylum; access to supportive and affirming healthcare for LGBTQIA+ people; the future of inclusive sport; and  international efforts to end unnecessary procedures performed on intersex people without their consent.

‘Thirteen countries directly criminalise trans identities’

Ymania Brown is a Samoan-born Fa’afafine trans woman who works with Equality Australia, the lead community partner for the conference.

Brown said decades of work by activists had led to many countries repealing laws criminalising LGBTIQ+ people.

“But 71 countries still criminalise sexual acts between people of the same sex. Thirteen countries directly criminalise the gender identity or expression of trans and gender diverse people,” she said.

“Many more disproportionately target trans and gender diverse people under other criminal laws.

“We’re also seeing a wave of anti-equality activism targeting gender diverse people, across the world.

“This work threatens to not just slow or prevent the decriminalisation of trans and gender diverse people, but wind back the hard-fought gains for these communities, including here in Australia.

“That’s why it is so timely that Sydney WorldPride is presenting the Human Rights Conference in May 2023.

“[The conference is to] shine a light on the issues facing our communities around the world and to bring together activists and decision-makers to build a better world, where LGBTIQ+ people are free and equal, no matter who we are, or who we love.”

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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