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Documents reveal Qld government worried about gays using pools

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Thirty year old cabinet documents released today show that the Queensland government in 1985 was worried about the spread of HIV and homosexual people using public pools.

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“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.” said Queensland’s welfare, youth and ethnic affairs minister Geoff Muntz and the height of Australia’s fear about HIV.

“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.” commented Mr Muntz back in 1986. The Minister’s suggestion to cabinet was that gay people should be banned from swimming pools.

At the time homosexuality was still illegal in Queensland, and it would be another 5 years before the laws would change, HIV was rapidly spreading in Australia Рat a time before treatment options were available  Рand newly released cabinet documents show government Ministers struggled to find a balance between providing for public health and their own morality arguments.

The concern about HIV being spread via public swimming pools had been in the news after a Sydney school refused to use a pool which had recently hosted an event as part of Sydney’s Mardi Gras. The NSW Health department had issued a statement saying it was unlikely that HIV could be transmitted via chemically treated water that was regularly changed., but the issue remained a concern for Queensland’s state ministers.

The documents also show that the state’s Health Minister¬†Brian Austin argued that Queensland should overturn its ban on condom machines to help provide greater protection from STI’s, but the long reigning Bejelke-Peterson government voted not to.

Image: Ian Prince via StockSnap

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