Queensland government was terrified about swimming with gay people, documents show
Unsealed documents have shone a light on extreme homophobia in the Australian state of Queensland.
The state’s 1985 cabinet documents were unsealed today under a 30-year rule, revealing the inner workings of the state government amid the AIDS crisis.
However, they show a cabinet peppered with extreme homophobes, such as National Party welfare minister Geoff Muntz.
In the documents, Muntz warns about the apparent spread of gay swimming events, claiming: “As a parent, I would have strong reservations about letting young people compete in a pool that was used for such a sick event as a gay swimming carnival.”
“It seems these people who promote such an immoral, unnatural and deviant lifestyle are turning up everywhere in New South Wales.
“…You’ll never hear of a gay mardi gras or gay swimming carnival in Queensland.”
His comments came after rumours – now proved to be scientifically nonsense – that it is possible to contract HIV by swimming with gay people.
4,500 Australians were living with HIV by 1985 – prompting hysteria throughout the country.
According to Fairfax, the Queensland government rejected any condom distribution campaign, instead tweaking licensing laws to allow bar owners to enforce bans on gay people.
At the time, National Party federal leader Ian Sinclair also blamed his opponents for the spread of AIDS.
He said: “It is very sad that as far as Labor Party policies are concerned, they have not recognised the medical consequences of a practice [homosexuality] which they have provoked and are promoting.”
The current Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy, Leeanne Enoch, noted: “The minutes from 1985 reveal an intriguing and tumultuous time in our state’s history when AIDS, electricity strikes and Native Title were all on the Cabinet agenda.
Homosexuality was only decriminalised in Queensland in 1990.