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

1978 venues

See b. 1976 - 1978 venues


1978 events


If not in Sydney


February 1978


AnGays is formed.

4 March 1978


The Australian Weekend runs articles on "The New Homosexual".

8  March  1978

San Francisco

A letter from the San Franciscan Gay Freedom Day Committee, asks for solidarity activities on 24 June to coincide with their march, which will be held in the face of the anti-gay Briggs Initiative in California.

20  March  1978                        



A collective of gay activists hosted by the Active Defence of Homosexuals on Campus (ADHOC) meets at Sydney University. The collective later takes the name Gay Solidarity Group.

7 April 1978


The Gay Film Fund holds a fund-raising dance at Petersham Town Hall with the bands Wasted Daze and The Faye Lewis Band.

10 May 1978


Sydney Morning Herald and Age poll shows a 57% support for homosexual law reform.

21-23 May 1978


900 attend a gay film festival at the Paris Theatre on the corner of Oxford Street and Wentworth Avenue.

24 May 1978


The Gay Film Fund holds a benefit screening of Journey Among Women as part of the Gay Film Festival at the Paris Theatre.

24 June 1978


The Weekend Australian runs a feature on gay rights.

24 June 1978 10am


500 march from the Town Hall to Martin Place. This is the largest gay march in Sydney to date.

24 June 1978 2pm


A Forum on the international gay movement is held at the Paddington Town Hall.

24 June 1978 10pm


The first Mardi Gras is pushed down Oxford Street by police. The lead sound truck is taken by police and the parade spontaneously moves to Kings Cross. The crowd grows to 2000 and subsequently 53 are arrested, some seriously beaten by police.

25 June 1978  


An early morning vigil is held outside Darlinghurst Police Station and arrestees bail is organised. Later meetings and a press conference is held at CAMP, 33a Glebe Point Road.

24 June 1978

San Francisco

300,000 march in the Gay Freedom day parade against Briggs Initiative.

26 June 1978  


300 protest outside closed court in Liverpool Street and 7 are arrested. 

27 June 1978


The Sydney Morning Herald publishes the names, addresses, jobs of those arrested.

27 June 1978  


A small delegation meets with the State Premier, Neville Wran.

30 June 1978

Melbourne Brisbane

400-600 march against the Sydney arrests. A protest is held in Brisbane.

30 June 1978


400 people meet at the Stanley Palmer Culture Palace in Darlinghurst and vote to hold a daytime march on 15th July.

July 1978        


Peter Blazey stands as a candidate for the State seat of Earlwood.

15 July 1978


2000 take part in largest ever gay rights march demanding all charges be dropped. 14 people are arrested near the Darlinghurst Police Station.

August 1978


Tropicana at 85 Oxford Street opens as a gay venue.

20  August  1978


A Drop the Charges motorcade drives from Glebe to Parramatta.

23  August  1978


The Anti-Discrimination Board releases a 5 volume report on NSW laws and calls for the decriminalisation of homosexual behaviour and the repeal of the Act and the repeal of the Summary Offences Act.

25 -27  August  1978


Labor Senator Susan Ryan opens the 4th National Homosexual Conference at Paddington Town Hall, Sydney. The conference theme is Homosexuals at Work. The Gay Trade Unionists’ Group and the Australian Gay Archives are formed at the Conference.

27  August  1978            


Police arrest 73 at Taylor Square and 31 protesters are arrested at the Right to Life Rally in Hyde Park. ( The total arrested is now 178)

29  August  1978           


The Sydney Morning Herald again publishes names and personal details of arrestees.

September 1978


The Fitness Exchange is formed.

12  September  1978


The Australian Public Service bans discrimination against lesbians and gay men.

12  September  1978


The ACT Branch of the federal public service union, ACOA, passes a motion supporting anti-discrimination for homosexual public servants.

16  September  1978


A Drop the Charges rally is in the Trades Hall.

22  September  1978


A Drop the Charges picket is held outside Central Court.

23  September  1978


A group called the Coalition Against Repression demonstrate against the Festival of Light Rally in Hyde Park.

24  September 1978


The Gay Trade Unionists’ Group holds its first meeting.

October 1978


The first newsletter of Gay Trade Unionists’ Group is published.

3  October  1978


The Gay Solidarity Group picket Labor Party election launch in the suburb of Ryde.

16-20  October  1978   


The Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations (ACSPA) calls for a gay workers’ conference against discrimination.

18  October  1978


The Sydney Morning Herald editorial defends listing names, details of arrestees.

4 November 1978


About 300 march from Circular Quay to Hyde Park demanding “Drop the Charges” and “Solidarity against Briggs vote”.

11  November  1978


NSW Gay Fed, a coalition of gay groups is founded.

26  November  1978


Acceptance premises at 46 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst is inaugurated with High Mass.

18 December 1978


NSW Teachers’ Federation adopts a gay rights policy.

Updated: 22/11/16