There is a widespread belief that the modern LGBTIQ+ movement began with Sydney’s first Mardi Gras in June 1978. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In the mid-1960s, liberals, Humanists and civil liberties campaigners, criticising the backward state of Australian life, often decried the laws against homosexuality as one of the things that needed to change. In 1968, a group of academics and journalists founded the Homosexual Law Reform Society of the Australian Capital Territory and set about lobbying for decriminalisation. In an unconnected development, in Melbourne a handful of lesbians founded the Daughters of Bilitis (later the Australasian Lesbian Movement) to educate society and their fellow lesbians and to have a few parties where they could let their hair down. And then in mid-1971, in Sydney, the Campaign Against Moral Persecution was launched, rapidly taking on a national presence.
In the following decade a variety of organisations, campaigns, newspapers and radio programs, action groups, demonstrations and protests built a movement that was transforming Australia and laying the foundations for the first Mardi Gras and all that came after.
Image: Jan Hillier (left) and her girlfriend, Luna Park, 1960s. History Inverted project, AQuA