The Homosexual Law Reform Society


The Homosexual Law Reform Society of the Australian Capital Territory (HLRS) was founded in Canberra in July 1969. It was initiated by a handful of liberal activists who had taken exception to the particularly unfair treatment meted out to a homosexual man at the hands of the police and courts. As reported in the Canberra Times on 14 May 1969, two young men had been arrested in a car on the far outskirts of the city. One had been convicted and sentenced to serve time in prison; the other had not. A number of people became convicted that the law itself was the problem. The HLRS was formally established at a public meeting on 4 July which called for the decriminalisation of homosexual acts between consenting adult men in private.

The Society then set out actively to push for change. An Ordinance was drafted (at the time the ACT was governed by the federal government and NSW law, but the relevant minister could amend the law in the ACT by issuing an ordinance.) More importantly, they set out to talk to people: clergy, doctors, members of parliament, Humanist and civil liberties societies, Lions Clubs … The organisation declined before the law was actually changed but it had started something important and shown there was support for change.


Photo: Graham Willett, Plaque honouring the HLRS, Ainslie Place, Canberra

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