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Currently on display

An Open and Shut Case

Celebrating 40 Years of Gay Law Reform in South Australia

The Advertiser headline on 18 September 1975 Homosexuality legal in SA

On 17 September 1975, South Australia became the first jurisdiction in Australia to decriminalise male homosexual acts. This exhibition commemorates the 40th anniversary of the achievement.

Three private member's bills were introduced into South Australia's parliament between 1072 and 1975 to enact law reform. the first was triggered by the tragic drowning in the River Torrens of law lecturer, Dr George Duncan. The exhibition explores these events in details.

The exhibition begins with the early years of the colony, showing 19th century attitudes towards sex between men. it also reveals the social and legal persecution of homosexual men in the 20th century and charts the rise of a gay sub-culture in Adelaide. Gay and lesbian activism following law reform is also examined, including the AIDS epidemic, anti-discrimination legislation and more recent contest around equal rights.

Forty-three years after Dr Duncan's death, the case is still open. The case for law reform in South Australia is also still very much open. And it now impacts a much wider community - lesbian, gay transgender, intersex and queer people.

Curators: Ian Purcell AM, Tim Reeves and Will Sergeant.

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