Activism and Australia's Ban on Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Military Service in the 1970s-80s

TitleActivism and Australia's Ban on Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Military Service in the 1970s-80s
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsRiseman, Noah
JournalAustralian Feminist Studies
Volume33
Issue95
Pagination147 - 163
Date Published2018/01//
Abstract

The 1970s witnessed the beginning of gay and lesbian visibility and activism in Australia. Law reform associations and liberation organisations emerged across the major cities, pushing numerous equality causes ranging from the rights of lesbian mothers to, most prominently, campaigns to decriminalise homosexual acts. One theme conspicuously low-key amidst this activism was the question of gay, lesbian and bisexual service in Australia's military. Longstanding regulations banned gays, lesbians and bisexuals from serving, and those who were caught were normally discharged. The services' respective police and intelligence services also intermittently embarked on 'witch-hunts'--practices which became even more pronounced in the 1980s. Though CAMP Inc sporadically addressed the ban on gay, lesbian and bisexual military service, discharged servicemen and women rarely took up the cause. This is in stark contrast to the United States, where there were numerous high-profile discharges, public campaigns and legal challenges to discrimination against gay and lesbian service personnel. This article examines the low-key status of military reform in the 1970s--80s, questioning why in Australia, for most discharged servicemen and women, the personal did not become political.

Short TitleAustralian Feminist Studies