TAS GAY & LESBIAN RIGHTS GROUP CHANGES NAME TO EQUALITY TASMANIA
HUNDREDS HEAR FROM POLITICIANS, ADVOCATES AND MUSICIANS
In front of a large crowd of LGBTI equality supporters, the Speaker of the Tasmanian Lower House, Sue Hickey, yesterday unveiled a permanent public memorial to LGBTI equality and the people who contributed to it.
Ms Hickey unveiled a new public seat on the lawns of the Tasmanian Parliament that has a plaque dedicated to Tasmania’s progress towards LGBTI equality.
The unveiling followed a public celebration on Parliament Lawns of thirty years of progress on LGBTI rights since the arrests of advocates in defence of a gay law reform stall at Hobart’s Salamanca Market in 1988.
The celebration drew hundreds of LGBTI community members and supporters. The crowd heard from people who contributed to change, including former and current politicians, Bob Brown, Lara Giddings, Christine Milne and Sue Hickey; advocates including Nick Toonen, Eva Ruzicka, Lee Gwen Booth, Martine Delaney, Sam Watson and Rodney Croome; and musicians including Monique Brumby, Peter Hicks, Kartanya Maynard and the QTas Choir.
In the course of the event, the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group, which was formed in early 1988 and has been at the centre of many of the positive legal and cultural changes in Tasmania, announced a name change to “Equality Tasmania” to recognise diversity within the LGBTI community and to be inclusive of that diversity.
The Group’s new logo includes four astericks which was the symbol used by Tasmanian colonial officials to refer to convicts who were in same-sex relationships or didn’t conform to traditional gender roles.
Equality Tasmania spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said,
“We gathered at Parliament House to celebrate the transformation of Tasmania from the state with the worst laws and attitudes about LGBTI people to the state with some of the best.”
“Tasmania was the last state to decriminalise homosexuality but went on to enact the nation’s best discrimination and relationship laws, and take the lead on marriage equality.”
“Tasmania’s transformation was confirmed when we returned a higher Yes vote in last year’s postal survey than any other state except Victoria.”
“This profound change is something all Tasmanians can be proud of and which LGBTI people across the nation can be inspired by.”
The commemorative seat and plaque unveiled by Sue Hickey was paid for by the Tasmanian Parliament and the Hobart City Council.
Mr Croome said,
“I hope the seat will be a place where people can sit and reflect on how far LGBTI people and Tasmania have moved towards inclusion and equality, and how far we have yet to go.”
The new seat is just metres from where, beginning on October 22nd 1988, 130 advocates were arrested in 1988 protesting the Hobart City Council’s decision to close down a gay law reform stall in the popular Saturday Salamanca Market.
The arrests are memorialised in a special art work where they occurred. The art work, by Justy Phillips, was put in place after the Hobart City Council apologised for ordering the arrests in 2008.