President's Blog November 2015

17 Sep 2015 19:58 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Dear Members, I am delighted to be able to post this note on our new website and trust that you are as impressed with it as I am as a way of getting forward information on behalf of the CLA.

My home jurisdiction is South Australia, in Australia. 

South Australia was the first jurisdiction in Australia to decriminalise homosexuality forty years ago on 2nd October 1975.  The criminalisation came about with the founding of the colony of South Australia in the 1830s and the imposition of the English law, much as every other country colonised and forming part of the British Empire, now the Commonwealth of Nations.

The decriminalisation of homosexuality was a tremendous milestone for my jurisdiction and has us in the position in 2015 where it is inconceivable to the general population that homosexuality would be a crime.  That is not to say there is a complete removal of discrimination, but compared to other jurisdictions in the Commonwealth, the LGBTI community is respected and (relatively) free of discrimination – but there is always more work to do.

A catalyst for the change in South Australia was the killing of Law lecturer, Dr George Duncan on 10 May 1972.  Dr Duncan was a lecturer at the University of Adelaide (where I obtained my degree).  Dr Duncan was thrown into the River Torrens which runs through Adelaide near the University precinct.  He drowned. The allegation was that this was done by members of the police force. A senseless, wasteful killing in the pursuit of “poofter bashing”.

According to an excellent biography prepared by Mr T Rees, the case gained nationwide publicity back in 1972 because it involved “the broader issue of homosexuality and attitudes towards it”.  On 15th September 2015 The University recently set up a memorial tribute to Dr Duncan and to mark the 40th year anniversary of the repeal of the laws, and this was opened by Commonwealth Eminent Person and dear friend of the CLA, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG.

Homosexuality is now decriminalised in all jurisdictions within Australia, and a number of other Commonwealth countries.  The decriminalisation of LGBTI practices is a matter that the CLA continues to have under discussion, from the very point of the classification of such behaviour between consenting adults in private as criminal, to the proportionality of punishment. It is an issue the CLA placed firmly on its agenda at the Hong Kong CLC in 2008.

The purpose of this blog will be to provide updates on activities of the CLA and our advocacy over all of the regions.  I therefore welcome any contributions from CLA members of particular issues in your home jurisdictions or issues of which we should be mindful on a wider basis.

Our cover photo: (L to R) Barrister A Durkin; The Hon M Kirby AC CMG; Alexander Ward President CLA; and Dean of Adelaide Law School Prof John Williams at Dr Duncan commemoration on Friday 11 September 2015

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