22nd August 2013
Stand your ground, young Russians (Gay Russian teens live in fear, 16 August). In 1988 Hobart City Council (HCC) banned a market stall set up by the Tasmanian Gay Law Reform Group to gather signatures petitioning for the decriminalisation of homosexuality. Over the next 7 weeks, 130 people were arrested and charged with trespass for crossing the infamous ‘yellow line’ around the stall. HCC then ordered the arrest of anyone found in the whole of the Salamanca Market precinct who was a known homosexual, or who was in possession of a copy of the petition, a pink triangle, or material using the words ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’. Protests and arrests proliferated. The ban was reversed in December 1988.
Homosexuality was finally decriminalised in Tasmania in 1997. In 2008 HCC made a public apology and commissioned Justy Phillips to create a commemorative artwork, which has just been embedded in the footpath near the site of the original stall. It simply, breathtakingly reads: “Forgive me for not holding you in my arms.”