Everyone included


Credit: Cassandra Hannagan

Credit: Cassandra Hannagan

A three-day conference on human rights was perhaps one of the more sober events taking place as part of Sydney WorldPride - a 17-day celebration of Australia’s vibrant LGBTQIA+ community - but for some it was the most important.

The event, which took place at ICC Sydney, attracted 1,800 delegates - 450 from overseas and many from the Asia Pacific region, including some first-time attendees.

For Paul Savage, former co-chair of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras board, that was crucial.

“I think the Human Rights Conference is the most important component of the WorldPride event. It's the one thing that (means) the rest of us in the free world can get a focus on injustices in different areas. I think where we have been most successful here is that we've been able to attract people to come to the WorldPride Human Rights Conference that haven't been able to go anywhere else. And, to my knowledge, this has been, by far, the biggest Human Rights Conference in any WorldPride that has been delivered.”


WorldPride organisers chose Australia, and Sydney in particular, because it was able to demonstrate a tangible commitment to sustainability, accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion during the bidding process.

Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were represented across multiple elements of the event. Each day started with a ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony, to acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Owners of the land on which ICC Sydney stands.

These ceremonies and all sessions were enhanced by the inclusion of Auslan and ISL intermediary interpreters who provided sign language for those conference attendees who were hearing-impaired.

ICC Sydney managers made further changes to the venue to accommodate the needs of delegates. Non-gendered bathroom signage replaced ICC Sydney’s standard toilet signage throughout the event space, while meeting rooms were converted into mental health resources including a wellbeing lounge, sensory room, and therapy room with additional creative spaces in the Gallery.

The conference also included a dedicated First Nations safe and inclusive gathering space to further facilitate their community connections and involvement in conference activities.

Kate Wickett, CEO Sydney WorldPride. Picture credit: Maja Baska

Kate Wickett, CEO Sydney WorldPride. Picture credit: Maja Baska

"ICC Sydney were great collaborative partners from the very beginning of this event and were incredibly aligned in the values we were trying to achieve," said Kate Wickett, CEO, Sydney WorldPride. "Whether it be accessibility, diversity or inclusion, the team shared our dedication in ensuring our delegates felt safe, accepted, and welcomed in the venue."

Fast facts:

Event: Sydney WorldPride Human Rights Conference  

When: 1 – 3 March 2023

Where: ICC Sydney

Organiser: Arinex


Organisers of the conference wanted to ensure the event left a positive mark on the city and beyond.

Australia’s Federal Government showed its recognition of WorldPride and the Human Rights Conference in Sydney by committing A$3.5m funding to the Global Equality Fund. This public-private partnership is made up of like-minded governments and private sector organisations dedicated to protecting and defending human rights and the fundamental freedoms of LGBTQIA+ persons around the world.

In addition to this, funding provided by private sector and government donors enabled the establishment of the Qtopia Museum in Sydney, launched during WorldPride. The museum, hosted in a former police station, will provide a permanent home for exhibitions which explore Australia’s LGBTQIA+ community across history, culture, art, and contemporary issues.

Savage said: “The legacy that we had always focused on was about elevating the role of Australia more generally in supporting and advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights around the region. And I think more generally, the key thing that I wanted to do was to start looking for funding for Australia to put our money where our mouth was as a leader for LGBTQIA rights in the region, and we've already seen some three-and-a-half to four million dollars announced specifically for furthering the rights of LGBTQI+ people across Asia-Pacific.”

Credit: Maja Baska

Credit: Maja Baska


Further highlighting the city and Australia’s commitment to ensuring an impactful event, Sydney’s iconic harbour bridge was closed to vehicular traffic for several hours to enable approximately 50,000 WorldPride participants to march across the bridge in a colourful display of solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community on the final day of WorldPride.

The hosting of WorldPride and the Human Rights Conference in Sydney in March was a collaborative effort spearheaded by the Australian WorldPride Committee and supported by Business Events Australia, Destination NSW, Business Events Sydney, ICC Sydney, the City of Sydney and many other organisations which effectively made up ‘Team Australia’.

Achieving carbon friendly events

Sustainability was another key requirement of the WorldPride organising committee.

This included replacing all plastic water bottles with more sustainable options and distributing waste stream bins to divert waste from landfill throughout the event space. ICC Sydney’s team provided the organiser with expert support to review relevant waste planning legislation and identify suitable waste management resources to help reduce the event’s overall landfill footprint.

ICC Sydney estimated Sydney WorldPride’s utility spend across water, electricity, and gas, based on delegate numbers, duration, and footprint of the event.

In numbers:

·        1,800 in-person delegates

·        1,200 online delegates

·        450 international delegates from 57 countries

·        230 local and international presenters

·        25 exhibitors

·        150+ volunteers