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Hobart Council gives green light to gay rights public artwork

The Hobart City Council has overwhelmingly endorsed plans for an artwork in Hobart's Salamanca Place commemorating the arrests of gay rights supporters in 1988.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

30th May 2012 23:21

Alessia Valenza | ILGA Oceania

Only one Councillor, Alderman John Freeman, voted against the artwork which was unanimously endorsed by the Council’s planning committee last week despite complaints from a Christian group that the artwork will be "divisive".

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said "The artwork is an important way to commemorate not just the arrests 24 years ago but also how far Tasmanian has come since then."

"Far from being ‘divisive’ the artwork commemorates reconciliation, inclusion and tolerance, values which the overwhelming majority of Tasmanians hold dear."

Mr Croome said he is disappointed but not surprised that Alderman Freeman voted against the artwork, his first action after being sworn back in as an Alderman just a few minutes earlier.

"When Alderman Freeman was first elected in 1988 he was one of the most vocal supporters of banning our stall from Salamanca, so it’s no surprise his first act after being re-elected was to condemn an artwork commemorating that ban."

"The fact Alderman Freeman’s views haven’t changed highlights how much attitudes in the broader community have."

In 2008 the Hobart City Council set aside $15,000 for the public artwork to mark the 20th anniversary of the arrests. It also issued a public apology for the arrests.

The arrests came after a Salamanca Market stall set up by the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group to advocate for the decriminalisation of homosexuality was shut down by the Council.

130 people were arrested defending the stall in what became the largest act of gay rights civil disobedience in Australian history.

Tasmania was the last Australian state to decriminalise homosexuality in 1997.

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For more information contact Rodney Croome on 0409 010 668