Local Laws and Getting Help
Sydney is known for being the LGBTQIA+ heart of the Pacific, so you can be certain of a warm welcome.
Sydney is also one of the Top 10 safest cities in the world, and with that comes with local laws to be aware of, and how to get help if you need it.
Drug and alcohol use
Sydney WorldPride will be a huge celebration, with many licensed venues across the city getting into the spirit. It’s the bar person’s legal responsibility to stop serving you alcohol if you’ve had too much, so pace yourself, eat well before partying and stay hydrated. In NSW, all bars serving alcohol must provide tap water for free.
Generally, it is not legal to drink on the street, parks or in other public areas in Sydney. However, if you’re in a pub with an outdoor area, or in the licensed areas of Mardi Gras Parade or Pride Villages, that’s totally fine. If you drink in an alcohol-free zone, including those in Mardi Gras Parade, you can be asked to leave.
Smoking cigarettes and vapes is legal in Australia, but use of both is extremely low compared to other countries. It is not permitted to smoke in any indoor venue. Sydney WorldPride is a smoke-free event – none of our ticketed venues permit smoking, including outdoor events.
Police are integral to the delivery of a safe Sydney WorldPride, and help us with everything from managing road closures, to crowd-management and protecting us from those who want to interfere with pride celebrations.
Of course the police do also enforce local laws, so it’s important to know recreational drugs are illegal in Australia, including weed (cannabis /marijuana). If you attend large festival-like events, police may be present, possibly with sniffer dogs, and they can stop and search you for drugs and confiscate them. You can learn more about your rights and responsibilities by checking out the Fair Play initiative, run by LGBTQIA+ community volunteers. They’ll be present at Sydney WorldPride and can help you out with any legal concerns. If you feel you’ve been unfairly treated, you can lodge a complaint with NSW Police here.
If you’re attending a Sydney WorldPride event and you’ve taken drugs or suspect that you have been spiked then become unwell, make yourself known to our staff or onsite medical team. Peer-based services like the ACON Rovers and DanceWize NSW will also be present at many of Sydney WorldPride’s major events and can offer support if you or a friend are in distress.
You can learn more about staying safe while having a good time by checking out the Fair Play initiative. Run by LGBTQIA+ community volunteers, they’ll be present at Sydney WorldPride and can help keep you safe, as can the ACON Rovers. You can access great resources at the Pivot Point website.
In Sydney, sexual consent can only be given by someone able to do so freely and voluntarily.
The best rule of thumb is to make sure you receive enthusiastic consent, understanding that it can be removed at any time. You can find out more on the Say it Out Loud website. We know that deciding to seek help following a sexual assault can be really tough. If you want to report an incident but don’t want to speak to police officers, you can use this confidential online portal. LGBTQIA+ community organisation ACON offers lots of support and advice here.
If you’re using hook-up apps to meet strangers, it makes sense to let a friend know where you are. You can do this by going into their contact details on your phone and selecting ‘Share my location’, with options for how long. If you feel threatened on the street, walk away towards the nearest group of people. Report to the police and if you need support, ACON have brilliant resources to help you keep safe.
Help in an emergency
If you need the police, fire brigade or an ambulance, call / dial 000 or go direct to the nearest hospital if you need emergency health assistance. If you have had taken anything that may have caused sickness, be honest with emergency services, so that they can give you the best care. Even if you have taken prohibited substances, they won’t report you to the police. The same is true of hospital staff.
If you’re unsure if you need to go to a hospital, there’s loads of information about symptoms and their severity here. In Sydney, Ambulance service workers wear navy uniforms with red crosses on their shoulders
In Sydney, police officers wear light blue and navy uniforms and are there to help. You can also reach out to dedicated Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers, who will be clearly identified by fluoro bands on their uniform. You can anonymously report a crime here. If you need help, but it’s not an emergency, you can contact the police assistance helpline on 131 444.
Here is a helpful hub about the types of discrimination that are not ok in NSW – including homophobia and transphobia – and how to get support. ACON has a brilliant resource hub specifically for trans people.