Skip to Main Content

MHS Library | Gay liberation movement

Gay Liberation Movement

Gay Liberation is the name used to describe the radical lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) movement of the late 1960s to mid 1970s in North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Lesbians and gays were urged to 'come out', publicly revealing their sexuality to family, friends and colleagues as a form of activism, and to counter shame with gay pride. Coming Out and Pride parades have remained an important part of modern LGBT movements, and the visibility of lesbian and gay communities has continued to grow.

The first organised GLBT movement in Australia was an Australian arm of the Daughters of Bilitis, formed in 1969. The Campaign Against Moral Persecution, also known as C.A.M.P., was founded in Sydney in September 1970 and the Melbourne-based gay rights organisation Society Five was formed in 1971.

Though lesbianism was never illegal in Australia, from 1788 to 1994 male homosexuality was. In 1994, the federal government of Australia passed the Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act 1994: section four legalised sexual activity between consenting adults (in private) throughout Australia. This legislation reflected laws already in place in most states and territories. South Australia was the first to legalise sexual conduct between men in 1975, with other states and territories following. The exception was Tasmania, which retained its laws until the Federal Government and the United Nations Human Rights Committee forced their repeal in 1997.

In Australia, the rights of LGBT couples and individuals have been gradually increasing since the 1970s. Laws regarding sexual activity now apply equally to same-sex and heterosexual activity in all Australian states and territories. Same sex unions were formally recognised in the ACT and Tasmania in May 2008; Victoria followed in December 2008. In the ACT and Western Australia, same-sex couples are allowed to adopt children; while in Victoria and Tasmania, they may adopt his or her partner's stepchild.

Before 2008 same-sex couples did not receive the same level of recognition as opposite-sex couples in 100 federal law statutes which utilise the phrase 'member of the opposite sex'. Legislation introduced in May that year began to alter these laws: eventually there will be equality in tax, health, superannuation, aged care, etc.

Information drawn from Wikipedia pages 'LGBT Rights in Australia' and 'Gay Liberation Movement'. (Source)