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1 March 2024 News Release

CSIRO will send its largest ever contingent to the 2024 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, marking the fifth time Australia’s national science agency has marched in the parade. 

CSIRO research vessel (RV) Investigator was lit up in rainbow colours ahead of the parade to celebrate LGBTQIA+ staff and the organisation’s commitment to acceptance, diversity and equality.  

‘Science for a rainbow future’ is the theme of CSIRO’s Mardi Gras float and something Maddy Lahm (she/her), a seagoing hydrochemist and proud lesbian, is working towards onboard RV Investigator

The vessel is currently on a voyage off Antarctica, and Maddy is conducting vital research in the Southern Ocean to better understand climate change. 

“Right now, I'm on a 60-day voyage and I can’t imagine how challenging it would be to hide who I am for such a long time,” she said. 

“I feel so lucky to be in a workplace where I can be openly gay.” 

Dr James Dougherty (he/him), a sustainable livestock systems research scientist at CSIRO, came out publicly as a queer trans man last October and will be marching with CSIRO’s float, his first time at the Sydney Mardi Gras.  

“I didn’t think I could be queer and an animal scientist until I worked for a queer professor who was an animal scientist and a mentor to me,” James said. 

“And when I joined CSIRO, I felt really supported. This is the first job where I’ve been open at work as a trans man.

“Several of my colleagues tell me ‘If anyone has a problem with you, they have a problem with me,’” he said.

CSIRO introduced gender affirmation leave as a specific category of paid leave in January 2022, one of the many initiatives championed by Pride@CSIRO, a professional network and social community for LGBTQIA+ identifying employees and allies, which promotes and drives the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ employees.

CSIRO’s Chief Executive Dr Doug Hilton (he/him), who will be marching with CSIRO’s float, said diversity and inclusion was a critical part of CSIRO being able to do great science.

“What it says to the community is that we really value everybody here at CSIRO,” Dr Hilton said.

“It says we need diversity in order to be able to tackle those really difficult scientific questions Australia is facing and that anybody, irrespective of their sexual orientation or their background, can feel welcome at CSIRO and be part of that.”

CSIRO's float includes 80 marchers – three from Queers in Science, an organisation supporting LGBTQIA+ people in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) – who will dance along Sydney’s Oxford Street to tunes from Madonna and Jessica Mauboy.

RV Investigator is part of the CSIRO Marine National Facility which is supported by the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).

B-roll of RV Investigator lit up in the colours of pride is available here.


RV Investigator lit up in the colours of pride in her home port of Hobart.
RV Investigator is currently on its longest-ever voyage in the Southern Ocean.
CSIRO unveils the costumes to be worn at the 2024 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
This year, 2024, marks the fifth time Australia’s national science agency has marched in the parade.

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