Public artwork commemorates Tasmanian Gay community’s struggle for equality.
- photo call at 10.30am, unveiling at 5.30pm
- artwork is “a permanent reminder of victory of acceptance over prejudice”
- unveiling marks International Day Against Homophobia
- photos from 1988 arrests available (through link below)
- info pack to follow
A permanent, public artwork to be unveiled on Thursday evening in Hobart will commemorate the Tasmanian gay community’s struggle for equality and it’s hope for a more accepting future.
The artwork, which is the first of its kind in Australia, commemorates the gay rights arrests at Salamanca Market in 1988, which began the decade-long campaign to decriminalise homosexuality in Tasmania, as well as the formal apology made by the Hobart City Council in 2008 for ordering the arrests.
The unveiling occurs on the eve of the International Day Against Homophobia.
Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson, Rodney Croome, who was arrested at Salamanca Market in 1988, said,
“The artwork recalls a time when people were arrested simply for petitioning for human rights, and is also a reminder of how far we have come since then, inspiring hope for a better future.”
“Tasmanians can be proud that we are publicly acknowledging both the mistreatment and the acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, and that we are leading the nation in such acknowledgement.”
“This commemorative artwork is a permanent reminder of the victory of acceptance over prejudice and love over hate.”
In October 1988 the Hobart City Council banned a stall collecting signatures on a petition calling for homosexuality to be decriminalised, and ordered the arrests of anyone defying the ban.
Over seven weeks 130 arrests were made, while hundreds more supporters protested from the Market’s verges, making the arrests the largest act of gay rights civil disobedience in Australian history. The Council finally backed down and allowed the stall on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 1988.
On the same day in 2008 then Lord Mayor, Rob Valentine, apologised for the arrests at an emotional civic reception for those who had been arrested.
The commemorative artwork called “The Yellow Line” represents the border of the Market which supporters of the stall would face arrest for crossing. The artwork also symbolises the hope for a more accepting future, as represented by the Council’s apology
A special plaque explaining the events of 1988 and 2008 accompanies the artwork (text below).
Both the apology and the commemorative artwork are the first of their kind in Australia.
There will be a photo call at 10.30am, and the official unveiling by some of those people arrested in 1988 will occur from 5.30pm. The artwork is located on the footpath of Salamanca Place outside Parliament House across from the Supreme Court.
An article from the Hobart Mercury about the importance of the commemorative artwork can be found here:
Photos of the 1988 arrests and protests are available here:
Photos 4 and 9 should be credited to the Mercury. The rest should be credited to Roger Lovell. They are available for ONE USE ONLY. To download a photo, click on the photo. In the bottom right corner of the following screen click on “…” and select “download”.
For more information contact Rodney Croome on 0409 010 68.
Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group
Thursday May 16th 2013
Photographs Roger Lovell
SALAMANCA COMMEMORATIVE ART WORK
- This information pack contains
- an outline of the arrests in 1998
- an outline of the Hobart City Council’s apology in 2008
- details of the artwork and those people who will speak on Thursday night
- a copy of the text on the plaque that will accompany the artwork
The events being commemorated: Salamanca Market 1988
In 1988 there were 130 arrests in defence of a gay law reform stall at Salamanca Market. It was the largest act of gay rights civil disobedience in Australian history.
· In August 1988 the recently-formed Tasmanian Gay Law Reform group set up a stall in Salamanca Market to gather signatures on a petition calling for the repeal of Tasmania’s laws against homosexuality.
· The laws were the harshest in the western world, criminalising all male-to-male sex with a maximum penalty of 21 years in gaol.
· In September the Hobart City Council banned the stall on the basis of one anonymous complaint. The ban was justified on the grounds that the Council felt the stall was “offensive”, “political” and it had no place in “a family market”.
· Stall organisers felt this was discriminatory, given that other campaign groups were allowed in the Market (Amnesty, the Wilderness Society, Resistance), and given that sexually explicit materials were on sale elsewhere in the Market.
· Stall organisers defied the ban and re-established the stall.
· On October 22nd 1988 the Council brought in the police and those stall organisers who refused to leave the Market were arrested.
· Over the next seven Saturday mornings 130 arrests were made, the charge being trespass.
· Ever larger crowds gathered at the Market every Saturday to protest the arrests.
· To be arrested, protesters needed to “cross the line”, being the boundary which separated the Market from public streets, traffic islands and grassed areas not under the control of the Hobart City Council. This is the inspiration for the art work (see below).
· As events escalated, the Council ordered the arrest of anyone found near the stall, known to be gay, found in possession of a gay law reform petition, or found in possession a sign with the words “gay”, “lesbian” or the pink triangle (symbol of gay pride).
· The Council tried and failed to impose gaol terms for those who returned to the Market after being arrested. Instead they were “banned for life”.
· The police threatened stall organisers with arrest before they left their houses on Saturday mornings, requiring organisers to sleep at other addresses. Police processed arrestees wearing rubber gloves and organisers were kept in police cells for indeterminate periods.
· On December 9th 1988 the Council finally allowed the stall, having discovered it had no legal authority to arrest market-goers for trespass. All the charges were dropped. The stall has been a fixture of Salamanca Market ever since.
· The arrests and protests were the largest act of gay rights civil disobedience in Australian history.
· They were a mass coming out for a community that had been largely silent and invisible until then.
· They sparked reform campaigns in the remaining Australian states to criminalise campaigns (WA and Qld).
· They also placed decriminalisation firmly on the Tasmanian stage. Nine years later, after a campaign that involved mass rallies for against reform, several parliamentary votes, a boycott of Tasmanian products, and the involvement of the United Nations, the Federal Government and the High Court, the laws were repealed
· Tasmania has since gone on to adopt some of the most progressive anti-discrimination and relationship laws in Australia, including being the first state to pass a same-sex marriage bill through a house of parliament.
From market arrests to commemorative art work
In 2008 the Hobart City Council apologised for the arrests and set funds aside for a public art work to be unveiled this week.
· In 2008, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the arrests, the Hobart City Council resolved to apologise for the arrests and allocate $15,000 for the production of a public art work to commemorate the arrests and the apology.
· On December 9th 2008, then Hobart Lord Mayor, Rob Valentine, officially apologised on behalf of the Council at a special civic reception at Hobart Town Hall.
· It was the first official apology for a gay rights abuse in Australian history.
· A competition was run for an art work design which was won by Justy Phillips.
· Ms Phillips’ design will be unveiled on Thursday May 16th 2013, the eve of the International Day Against Homophobia.
· The artwork will be the first in Australia to commemorate both the injustices faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, and celebrate the resilience of GLBTI people and their allies.
The artwork and associated plaque
The commemorative artwork and associated plaque tell the story of the Salamanca arrests, the apology for those arrests and hope for the future.
· The artwork is entitled, “The Yellow Line”
· It represents the line around the Market that supporters of the stall would face arrest for crossing, as well as the other lines GLBTI people and their supporters have been forbidden by law and prejudice to cross.
· The artwork is made up of two aluminium, light-emitting boxes which each display a message relevant to the arrests.
· People walking along Salamanca Place are faced with the choice of walking over or around “The Yellow Line”.
· There is also a plaque providing background to the artwork.
· The text of the plaque was written by Miranda Morris whose 1994 history of the Tasmanian gay law reform debate, The Pink Triangle, included a chapter on the Salamanca arrests.
The people involved
The following people will all speak at Thursday’s unveiling.
· Justy is the artist who designed the art work to be unveiled on Thursday evening. She is a lecturer at the School of Communications and Creative Industries, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. She has a long association with Tasmania.
· Rodney is the spokesperson for the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group. He was arrested several times at Salamanca Market.
· Julian is a spokesperson for the Rainbow Communities Tasmanian which contributed $7000 to the production of the art work.
· Damon is the Lord Mayor of Hobart.
The text of the plaque
The Yellow Line
Justy Phillips, 2013. Aluminium, acrylic, light-emitting diodes
Between September and December 1988, the Hobart City Council called on the Tasmanian police to make 130 arrests for trespass at Salamanca Market. In August that year the Tasmanian Gay Law Reform Group (TGLRG) had begun leasing a stall at the Market so that supporters could sign a petition calling on the state parliament to repeal laws that criminalised homosexuality.
In mid-September officials of the Hobart
City Council informed the TGLRG that the Council deemed the stall ‘offensive’ and
that it would be banned. They warned that anyone attempting to set up the stall would be arrested. As other Market stallholders
and members of the public came out in support, the grounds for a charge of trespass expanded, with display of the words ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ or possession of the petition considered reasons for arrest.
As the arrests increased, an ever-larger number of supporters came to the Market each week to protest against what they saw as a breach of human rights.
On 9th December 1988 the Hobart City Council lifted its ban on the TGLRG stall when it was revealed that the Council held no authority
to prosecute for trespass. Charges against those who had been arrested were dropped the following week. By this stage the arrests had become the largest act of gay rights civil disobedience in Australian history.
The TGLRG stall has been a fixture of the Market ever since. On 9th December 2008, the Hobart City Council apologised for its actions in 1988 and acknowledged the prejudice that was fostered against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) people.
This artwork symbolises the line around the Market that supporters of the stall would face arrest for crossing, as well as the other lines that GLBTI people and their supporters have been forbidden by law and prejudice to cross. It stands as public acknowledgement of the events of 1988 and the Hobart City Council’s apology 20 years later.
This project has been initiated by the Hobart City Council in partnership with the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group and Rainbow Communities Tasmania Inc.