The 33rd annual Gay and Lesbian Sydney Mardi Gras took place in Australia over the weekend, drawing large crowds and seeing a reduction in criminal behaviour.

Saturday’s parade through the city was led by American transsexual icon Amanda Lepore, and boasted around 10,000 participants and over 130 floats, under the banner of celebrating gay history. Hundreds of thousands more lined the streets to watch the spectacle.

According to police, 35 people were arrested during the night for offences ranging from drug possession and assault to theft. This was said to be fewer than in 2009.

The festival’s organisers were criticised in the run up to the event for the “corporatisation” of the Mardi Gras, also known as New Mardi Gras, with critics claiming that sponsors’ needs were given priority over those of the gay community.

The Mardi Gras, which first took place in 1978 as a protest march to commemorate the Stonewall Riots in New York, is now believed to bring in around AU$30 million in tourism revenue to Sydney.

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