Parliament apologises to Mardi Gras founders the 78ers

NEW South Wales Parliament has apologised to Mardi Gras founders the "78ers" nearly 38 years after they were attacked and humiliated for standing up for gay rights.

A crowd of people, some wearing rainbow coloured T-shirts and sporting banners saying "Pride", filled the Legislative Assembly's gallery this morning.

They heard Coogee Liberal MP Bruce Notley-Smith speak of his own experiences growing up as a gay man.

"For the mistreatment you suffered that evening, I apologise and I say sorry,"

"As a member of the parliament which dragged its feet in the decriminalisation of homosexual acts, I apologise and say sorry.

"And as a proud gay man and member of this parliament offering this apology, I say thank you.

"The actions you took on June 24, 1978, have been vindicated."

More than 1000 people joined the march through Sydney's streets on June 24, 1978.

The protest included only a single float - a far cry from today's spectacle, which attracted 35,000 overseas visitors last year.

Police arrested 53 people during the march, whose names, addresses and professions were then published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

SMH editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir apologised on behalf of the newspaper on Wednesday.

"The paper at the time was following the custom and practice of the day. We acknowledge and apologise for the hurt and suffering that reporting caused," he said.

"It would never happen today." -APN NEWSDESK