A chronology of lesbian and gay communities, movements, and venues in Sydney









1960 - 1966























































Australian society in the late 1960s was hostile to homosexuals or, at least, its institutions were. The Law treated gay men as criminals who could be locked away for 14 years for the “abominable crime of buggery”, and the police were active in trying to prosecute them.

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Coming Out Into a Hostile World

Francesca (Chesca) Curtis's television appearance on The Bailey File, a Melbourne-based current affairs programme on commercial television TV's Channel 9, in May or June 1970, speaking about the aims of the Australian Lesbian Movement was arguably Australia's first "coming out" in the media.

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Australia's First National Coming Out

Homosexual/transgender social groups began forming in the early 1960s in Sydney. They offered membership of a discreet “camp” organisation. Their dances provided the perfect stage for Sydney’s new amateur drag scene to flourish and a place for men and women to meet up and find Miss or Mr Right – at least for the night. In the Leichhardt area, there was no shortage of public halls for these groups.

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Leichhardt/Dykehardt Exhibition

Male homosexual acts are no longer criminal in NSW – the law was amended in 1984, and ‘gay’ men can live quite open lives, with a range of venues where they can socialize in ways similar to their heterosexual counterparts. Also, the two worlds now softly collide, with gays and straights mixing together quite easily in many places in Sydney’s inner suburbs.

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And The Beats Go On...

The following people participated in the first Mardi Gras and/or the related events . While every attempt has been made to ensure accuracy, the list could include errors and omissions. Some names are also likely to be the arrestees' aliases.

78ers Honour Roll





If not in Sydney


April 2003


Canterbury/Bankstown Social Group President, Alex Day, Fairfield City Councillor Thang Ngo, Luncheon Club Convenor Carole Ann King, Executive Director of AFO Don Baxter, Academic Garry Wotherspoon, AMA president Dr Kerry Phelps, playwright Alana Valentine, public servant Bev Lange, designer Brian Thompson and opera singer Debora Cheetham, receive Centenary Medals for significant contributions to Australian society.

April 2003

Sth Aust

A group of students representing Queer Block take part in a protest outside Baxter Detention Centre.

April 2003


The South Australian parliament votes in favour to amend its superannuation laws to include same-sex couples.

May 2003


Lesbian poet, Jill Jones is awarded the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry.

May 2003


The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby releases a report on same sex parenting, And then … The Brides Changed Nappies by Jenni Millbank.

2 May 2003


The president of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB), Chris Puplick resigns. He rejects media reports accusing him of a conflict of interest in a gay harassment case the ADB considered in 2000.

8 May 2003


The boundaries of the City of Sydney are expanded, taking in South Sydney suburbs of Glebe, Camperdown, Darlinghurst and Elizabeth Bay.

10 May 2003


The new board of the New Mardi Gras is elected with five previous board members being re-appointed.

21 May 2003


The NSW Legislative Assembly votes in favour of a lower age of consent for gay males in the Crimes (Sexual Offences Amendment Bill).

21 May 2003


The NSW Upper House accepts the equal age of consent legislation with a number of child protection amendments.

31 May 2003


Transsexuals, Andrew and Jessica Blair are married by in the Ecumenical Catholic Church. This follows on from the successful Kevin and Jennifer case in the Family Court.

June 2003


Australian Democrats Senator, Brian Greig fails to include same sex couples in superannuation reforms to federal legislation.

23 June 2003


Sydney City Council removes a clause exempting Darlinghurst Road anti-clustering of sex industry businesses.

July 2003


The AIDS Trust of Australia gives less than $30,000 of a promised $144,000 to the Australian AIDS Councils in the financial year 2002-2003.

July 2003


Gay reality television couple, Warren and Gavin reach the halfway point of their on-screen renovations on Channel 9’s The Block.

July 2003


Section 28, the law prohibiting the “promotion” of homosexuality by local authorities in UK schools, is repealed.

July 2003


Members of the Canterbury Bankstown District Gay and Lesbian Social Club boycott the Bankstown Canterbury Torch for the consistent homophobic content of the paper’s letter page.

July 2003


Social club Harbour City Bears changes its meeting place from the Palace Hotel to Oxford Hotel Friday nights.

July 2003


The inaugural Business Leaders’ Awards organised by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association, is held.

17 July 2003


The Uniting Church votes in favour of ordaining openly gay and lesbian ministers.

25 July 2003


Gay film director, John Schlesinger dies aged 77.

31 July 2003


A papal statement Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, which claims homosexuality is disordered and depraved, calls on civil authorities to oppose “the legislation of evil”.

August 2003


Pride posts a $130,000 loss. A $40,000 loss on its New Year’s Party and $120,000 annual rent contribute to the loss.

August 2003


South Sydney Council votes 7-2 in favour of a motion to pursue its own partnership registration scheme.

August 2003

Boston, US

The Sydney Rangers gay soccer team, wins a silver medal at the Gay and Lesbian World Cup.

August 2003


The Australian Council of Trade Unions adopt a policy protecting GLBTI workers from discrimination and endorsing the 2002 Workers Out conference resolution requiring unions to eliminate discrimination based on “sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression”.

August 2003


The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association members elect former President Vicki Brackenberg and her team. The Association soon after closes its Newtown office.

August 2003


A bill recognising same sex couples in almost all Tasmanian laws and setting up a registry for all significant personal relationships passes the Legislative Council 9-5.

August 2003


Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and the ALSO foundation receive a $20,000 grant to run a national gay and lesbian rights campaign in the lead up to the federal 2004 election.

August 2003


The United Nations Human Rights Committee decrees Australia must amend its discriminatory relationship laws that allow Edward Young to be refused payment and a surviving widow’s pension by the Department of Veterans Affairs after the 1998 death of his partner who served in WW2.

5 Aug 2003


Gene Robinson is confirmed as the first openly gay Episcopalian bishop.

18 Aug 2003


Vida Las Vegas wins Entertainer of the Year and Sydney’s Most Popular Drag Queen, and David Wilkins is inducted into the DIVA Hall of Fame at the DIVA Annual Awards at Royal Randwick.

27 Aug 2003


ABC staff threaten industrial action unless disciplinary proceedings against openly gay religion correspondent Stephen Crittenden are halted. Crittenden had been taken off the air in July following his publication of an article in the Sydney Morning Herald. In September he is ordered back to work despite a finding of “serious misconduct” against him.

Sept 2003


John Marsden and the Seven TV network come to a $9 million settlement that brings to an end the longest running defamation case in Australian legal history.

Sept 2003


I’m Not that Kind of Girl a biography of transgender performer Carlotta by Prue MacSween is published.

Sept 2003



Canadian-Australian John Richardson and his partner Peter Bayfield marry. The marriage licence is still not recognised by the Family Court of Australia.

Sept 2003


Catholic Archbishop George Pell is promoted to the position of cardinal by the Vatican.

Sept 2003


The video installation, Welcome to the Jungle, a drag king performance by the Kingpins is shown as part of the annual Museum of Contemporary Art Primavera Exhibition.

3 Sept 2003


Claims that radio broadcaster 2UE presenters John Laws and Steve Price’s comments about the openly gay stars of the Channel 9 program The Block would ‘incite the reasonable listener to hatred’ are heard in the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.

4 Sept 2003


The Home Movies of Ken Garrahy screen at Queerdoc. It is a compilation of Super 8 footage of friends involved in camp social groups in the 1960s.

13 Sept 2003


The New Mardi Gras new home at 297-299 Trafalgar Street Petersham is opened by the deputy premier and local member Dr Andrew Refschauge.

14 Sept 2003


30 NSW police officers raid the Arq night club and find 200 different drug items.

16 Sept 2003


NSW Liberal backbencher Charlie Lynn, apologises for making an allegation of paedophilia against an unnamed minister of the Carr Labor Government in May.

17 Sept 2003


A bill aimed at ending discrimination for same sex couples in the private sector is passed by the federal Senate.

24 Sept 2003


The federal government commits itself to developing a fifth national HIV/AIDS strategy and appoints Dr Michael Woolbridge as its senior advisor on AIDS issues.

24 Sept 2003


Chris Puplick announces he will stand down as chairman of the Board of Governors of the AIDS Trust of Australia, a position he has held since 1996.

24 Sept 2003


South Sydney Council votes to offer Erskineville Town Hall to Pride for an annual rental of $67,000. The Luncheon Club and the FitX Gym will not be accommodated at Erskineville.

27 Sept 2003


40,000 turn up on a windy Saturday for the annual AIDS Trust Food and Wine Fair in Hyde Park.

October 2003


The Anglican archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen suggests the Australian church break ties with the US communion after the appointment of openly gay Reverend V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire in August.

October 2003


The Luncheon Club relocates to the Gordon Ibbet Community Centre, Kellick Street, Waterloo.

October 2003


US President George Bush proclaims 12-13 October to be Marriage Protection Week, an initiative which will include protecting marriage as a heterosexual institution.

October 2003


Amendments to the Superannuation (Government Co-contribution For Low Income Earners) (Consequential Amendments) Bill which would have given equality for same sex couples is defeated in the Australian Senate, when the Liberal Government gathers support from Independent senators.

October 2003


NSW Ombudsman Bruce Barbour tables his annual report in state parliament which includes the results of his investigation of Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB) president Chris Puplick’s “unreasonable and unjust” handling of a case brought before the ADB by a friend.

4 Oct 2003


Almost 10,000 attend Flesh – undressed Annual Sleaze Ball, the annual fundraiser for New Mardi Gras

26 Oct 2003


The shadow Labor Federal attorney general, Robert McLelland announces the ALP will look at implementing registers for homosexual couples rather than pursuing same-sex marriage.

November 2003


The firm Lawler Partners is appointed receiver of the lease of the Oxford Hotel. In August lessee Richard Wynne is sued by landlords Barry Toomey and Ron Pantlin for moneys owed.

November 2003


Negotiations between the Federation of Gay Games and the Montreal delegation break down, leaving the Federation looking for another host city.

November 2003


Queer Screen Limited records a loss of $57,817 for the 2002/2003 financial year. The loss is blamed in part on a decrease in ticket sales and a bad debt owed by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

5 Nov 2003


Four South Sydney councillors question the allocation of the Erskineville Town Hall to the Sydney Pride Centre.

12 Nov 2003


The Channel Nine network airs a “roast” of TV host Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum, despite homophobic comments made by Footy Show host Sam Newman.

18 Nov 2003

Boston, US

The Supreme Court of Massachusetts rules that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the state’s constitution.

20 Nov 2003


The stories of 300 transgendered people around the world who have been killed are honoured in a ceremony at the Gender Centre.

21 Nov 2003


South Sydney Council launches its partnership register. Its first registration day is 7 February 2004.

26 Nov 2003


The NT Parliament passes the Gay and Lesbian Law Reform package – equal age of consent; removal of discriminatory exemptions from the territory’s Anti-Discrimination Act and legal rights for same sex couples.

29 Nov 2003


Lou-Anne Lind is elected as Sydney Pride Centre Co-President after previously serving four years.

30 Nov 2003


The re-designed Taylor Square is launched by the mayor of South Sydney, Tony Pooley.

December 2003


A San Francisco health official warns Sydney’s gay community to hear “honest talk” about the risks of crystal meth use, to avoid the problems now facing the US gay scene.

December 2003


Getting it: Gay Men’s Sexual Stories, edited by Robert Reynolds and Gerard Sullivan is released.

December 2003


Gav and Waz, gay stars of the reality home make-over show, The Block join 50 volunteers to make over the new home of Twenty10 and the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service in Bedford Street, Newtown.

December 2003


Three senior US military officers out themselves to challenge the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy forcing gay men and lesbians to keep their sexuality a secret.

1 Dec 2003


Sydney Lord Mayor, Lucy Turnbull is named the new Chair of the Board of Governors of the AIDS Trust of Australia.

9 Dec 2003


A Bangladeshi gay couple who had been refused protection visas will have their case re-heard after the Refugee Tribunal’s decision was overturned by the High Court.

16 Dec 2003


A NSW Government report You Shouldn’t Have to Hide is released. It is based on a survey of LGBT people of experiences of homophobic abuse and violence and reports 56% of respondents experienced such an event in the previous 12 months.

Updated: 16 March 2015