Fred Nile would be thrilled with the weather forecast for tomorrow. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, there is a 95% of rain for Sydney, with thunderstorms likely to rain on the annual Mardi Gras parade. For the majority of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ 38-year history, the leader of the Christian Democratic Party Fred Nile has led a prayer for literal rain on the actual parade as a protest against what he sees as the event’s immorality. But although he might be getting a divine favour tomorrow, he does not have such a good strike rate with asking his Saviour to bust out a proverbial flood.
Nile has opposed the march and any progress on gay rights for decades. In a press release before the 2006 parade, Nile begged for God to “forgive Sydney”, saying he was praying for rain over the parade rather than “fire and brimstone”:
“Almighty God the Creator faces two conflicting options — to punish those who deliberately sin and blaspheme, as occurred at Sodom and Gomorrah; or to exercise love, mercy and forgiveness so as to allow time for the Mardi Gras participants to repent of their sin; as Jesus Christ said in his first sermon ‘repent for the kingdom of God is at hand’.”
Nile seems to think that rain, coming at the end of Sydney summer, would force the (usually) scantily clad dancers parading up Oxford Street to abandon the march, and consequently their life of “sin”. But data from the Bureau of Meteorology suggests that Nile’s prayers almost always go unanswered. A total of 26 out of 37 of the dates for the Mardi Gras parade, dating back to the initial protest march in 1978 (before Nile began his prayers), were either rain-free or close to completely dry.
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The following are the dates of the parade over the last 38 years (thanks to Matt Akersten from Mardi Gras) and rainfall data taken from the following day from BOM’s station in Centennial Park and Observatory Hill (BOM measures at 9am the following day for the amount of rainfall for the previous day).
The initial protest and the two subsequent parades were held in the middle of winter.
- Saturday, June 24, 1978: 0mm
- Saturday, June 30, 1979: 0mm
- Saturday, June 28, 1980: 0mm
After that, a decision was made to move the parade to summer, as it’s much more fun to get out and protest in very little when it’s a bit warmer.
- Saturday, February 21, 1981: 12.2mm (bit rainy)
- Saturday, February 27, 1982: 0mm (at Observatory Hill)
- Saturday, February 26, 1983: 0mm
- Saturday, February 25, 1984: 0mm
- Saturday, February 23, 1985: 0.6mm
- Saturday, February 22, 1986: 24.5mm (quite rainy)
- Saturday, February 21, 1987: 0mm
- Saturday, February 27, 1988: 0mm
- Saturday, February 18, 1989: 0mm (this year Nile ran a counter protest down Oxford Street in October)
- Saturday, February 17, 1990: 14.4mm (bit rainy)
- Saturday, February 16, 1991: 0.6mm (after 47mm the day before)
- Saturday, February 29, 1992: 0mm
- Saturday, February 27, 1993: 0mm
- Saturday 5 March, 1994: 0mm
- Saturday, March 4, 1995: 18.4mm (quite rainy)
- Saturday, March 2, 1996: 0mm
- Saturday, March 1, 1997: 0mm
- Saturday, February 28, 1998: 0mm
- Saturday, February 21, 1999: 0mm
- Saturday, March 4, 2000: 0mm
- Saturday, March 3, 2001: 7mm (over a four-day period)
- Saturday, March 2, 2002: 0mm
- Saturday, March 1, 2003: 0mm
- Saturday, March 6, 2004: 32.4mm
- Saturday, March 5, 2005: 0mm
- Saturday, March 4, 2006: 0mm
- Saturday, March 3, 2007: 0mm
- Saturday, March 1, 2008: 9.8mm (over two days)
- Saturday, March 7, 2009: 0mm (at Observatory Hill)
- Saturday, February 27, 2010: 0mm
- Saturday, March 5, 2011: 0mm
- Saturday, March 3, 2012: 3.6mm (had been heavier in the days leading up to the parade day, and rain was heavy during the parade)
- Saturday, March 2, 2013: 2.8mm (heavier at 29.5mm the day before)
- Saturday, March 1, 2014: 20mm
- Saturday, March 7, 2015: 0mm
- Saturday, March 6, 2016: No data yet on the BOM website, but it did not rain on that day.
Despite the lack of success both in praying away the gays with rain and failing to block every advance of LGBTI rights in his state throughout his political career, Nile remains undeterred. In 2015, he put out a press release stating that “homosexuality is in opposition to the concept of the natural reproduction of life” and he called on the police to shut the parade down (in lieu of God answering his prayers) because it was “almost naked adults luridly imposing their sexuality to spectating, innocent children” and “indecent exposure”.