Ron Hughes: Past and Future
This May sees a coming together of sorts. Not only is it South Australian History Month, it marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr George Duncan, and also the tenth annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).
While there were moves afoot to decriminalise homosexuality before Dr Duncan’s 1972 drowning in an obvious gay-bashing, it was his brutal end and the callous nature of attempts to sweep it under the carpet that led to public indignation and a groundswell of support for decriminalisation. This much is certain: two years later Don Dunstan’s Labor government pushed legislation through in a gruelling all-night sitting of parliament. My good friend Will Lowes was in parliament that night, covering the story, and he told me that the moment the legislation was passed, the wave of emotion that swept through the chamber was overwhelming. Something had been done! This was, indeed, history. A memorial service for Dr Duncan will be held at the University Footbridge at noon on May 10, exactly one week before IDAHO. There will be an evening forum from 6:15 in the Napier Building of Adelaide University on the day.
For those not in the know, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) was started up by a Canadian group ten years ago to call attention to the plight of many around the world who suffer prejudice, discrimination, violence and even death because of their real or perceived sexuality or gender difference. It has grown steadily from year to year, with events now taking place in many parts of the world. This year the good people of the AIDS Council of South Australia will be holding an IDAHO stall in Rundle Mall where they will be distributing posters and other resources, rainbow ribbons and “I [heart] IDAHO" bracelets. There’s even a hint of fairy cakes to be had! They’ll be there from 8:30am to 3:30 pm on Thursday May 17, so I urge you, get down there and show your support, and check out our separate feature for details of the I love IDAHO campaign. While we reflect on how far we’ve come and still have to go since the death of Dr Duncan, we can still turn our hearts and minds to those suffering awful persecution in other parts of the world.
To round out the hat-trick, History Month sees the Uranian Society holding a special meeting to examine the influence and achievements of the late great Don Dunstan in the field of social justice reform (see our separate news story for details). You know what they say about those who fail to learn from history...
And don’t forget the Equal Love Rally, Saturday May 12, 1pm on the steps of Parliament House. How’s that for a segue from the past to the future?
Ron Hughes is the editor of blaze.