Miriam Margolyes shares first-ever Pride experience aged 81: ‘The struggle isn’t over’

Miriam Margolyes attends her first-ever Pride parade

Legendary actor Miriam Margolyes attends her first-ever Pride parade in her new docuseries Australia Unmasked.

Margolyes, 81, explores the history of LGBTQ+ rights in Australia in the new show and also shares her own coming out story.

The first episode of Australia Unmasked saw Margolyes meet with Tasmanian LGBTQ+ activist Rodney Croome, who explained that the island state was the last place in Australia to decriminalise homosexuality in 1997.

Croome, 58, said: “When we were trying to decriminalise homosexuality, there were large anti-gay rallies in Ulverstone.

“Hundreds of people came from all over in the civic centre to protest against LGBTIQ people in the late 80s… The speakers were inciting the crowds to even higher levels of hatred. The crowds were shouting ‘Kill them! Kill them!'”

Croome tweeted after the episode was broadcast: “It was a privilege to have Miriam Margolyes highlight how Tasmania has gone from worst to best on LGBTIQA+ human rights.”

Miriam Margolyes, who has been with her partner Heather Sutherland since 1968, explained during the episode that her mother was “devastated” when she came out as a lesbian.

“I told my mother, and she was utterly devastated. My parents were Jewish. My father was a doctor so you’d think he would be a bit clued up,” she said.

“But no, not when it was his daughter. It wasn’t possible.”

She then took part in her first ever Pride parade in Hobart, Tasmania, holding several rainbow flags.

“The bigoted state that so many of my new friends grew up in has all but vanished… Tassie now boasts the most progressive LGBTQI laws in Australia,” Margolyes said.

“Although the struggle isn’t over, I’m proud to march – or roll rather – right along with them.”

Despite being the last place in Australia to decriminalise homosexuality, Tasmania does now boast several progressive LGBTQ+ laws, including sweeping transgender protections enacted in 2019.

The gender recognition law reforms passed in Tasmania allowed people 16 or older to change their registered gender, removed requirements for transgender people to undergo surgery in order to have their legal gender recognised, and boosted anti-discrimination protections for trans people.

Transforming Tasmania spokesperson, Martine Delaney, said at the time: “This is a historic day for transgender and gender diverse people, not only in Tasmania but around the world.

“This legislation ranks among the most inclusive and equitable in the world.

“Today I feel prouder to be a Tasmanian than I have ever felt before.”