Hobart artwork planned to mark site of gay arrests
Hobart City Council is planning to mark the controversial arrests of over 100 gay rights activists at Salamanca Place in 1988 with a series of public artworks.
The move by Council comes after it issued a public apology in 2008 for its role in the arrests which took place when serving councillors of the time banned the Tasmanian Gay Law Reform Group’s stall at the Salamanca Markets.
130 people in total were arrested by police, with the ban and arrests leading to an increase in protests by the local gay community against the criminalisation of homosexuality, which was eventually overturned in 1997 following the intervention of the United Nations and the Federal Government.
Since then, Tasmania has also been recognised as a leader of states in gay law reform, with Tasmania's Parliament last year becoming the first parliament in Australia to back a motion calling for marriage equality.
Two LED lightboxes, measuring 2 metres in length and 20 centimetres in width, as well as an interpretative sign are proposed to be placed near the lawns of Tasmania’s Parliament House with Council committing $15,000 to develop a commemorative plaque and public art installation.
A further $7,000 has been raised for the project through a recent art auction held by the Coming Out Proud Program.
The installations, based on a concept by artist Justy Phillips, is likely to see one of the LED installations including the words, “In the wake of your courage I swim”, while the other will contain the words, “Forgive me for not holding you in my arms”.
Rodney Croome, from the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group, told SX that as one of the 130 people arrested on October 22, 1988, the artwork would hopefully explain in a simple and straightforward manner the historic events of that day.
“When it is finally installed, it will be a very important moment, not only for the history of the gay community but the history of Tasmania,” Croome said.
“It will be a symbol of how far we have come in being a more inclusive and tolerant society.”