On This Gay Day: In 1982 the RSL stopped a wreath honouring gay service personnel

In 1982 Bruce Ruxton stopped gay and lesbian service personnel being recognised 

Today is ANZAC Day in Australia, a time when we recognise the service of those in the armed forces in times of conflict and times of peace.

Australia has been progressive in allowing gay, lesbian, and transgender people to serve in the military, but it’s not that long ago that people kept their sexuality a secret, and lived in fear in order to be on Australia’s frontline.

The Australian Queer Archives have highlighted that back in 1982 the situation was very different. At the ANZAC Day Service in Melbourne a group of men from the Gay Ex-Services Association attempted to lay a wreath remembering gay men and lesbians who had died in conflict. As they climbed the steps of the War Memorial, a voice cried out “Stop those men!”.

Returned Services League President Bruce Ruxton barred their path and stopped them honouring the war heroes. Ruxton would later tell The Age newspaper  “I didn’t mind the poofters in the march, but they must march with their units.”

“We didn’t want them to lay a wreath because we didn’t want them—and they are just another start to the denigration of ANZAC Day,” he said.

The image of Ruxton stopping the wreath being laid was captured by Jay Watchorn from the publication City Rhythm. The photo, and others in the series are now part of the collection at the Australian Queer Archives.

Ruxton’s views on homosexuality were well-known at the time, he’d previously told broadcaster Derryn Hinch that if he had a gay son, he shoot him. Ruxton famously claimed there were not gay people serving in the armed forces during World War II, but there are many accounts of gay and lesbian people serving across all conflicts.

For an in-depth report on LGBTI people serving check out this post from SBS. To support the Australian Queer Archives, head to their webpage and make a donation.

Actor Cyril Nri celebrates his 60th birthday

British actor Cyril Nri is celebrating his 60th birthday today. He is known for his roles as Chief Superintendent Adam Okaro on long running series The Bill. 

His career has seen him appear regularly on British TV series over the decades including memorable roles in This Life, Law and Order UK and the Russell T Davies penned series Cucumber. 

Nri’s role of Lance, an older gay man who has to return to the world of dating after breaking up with his long term partner, in Cucumber saw him receive high praise and award nominations.

Born in Nigeria, he moved to Portugal when he was seven years old, and later his family moved to London.

In 2016 Gay magazine publisher Xulhaz Mannan was brutally murdered

Xulhaz Mannan was the publisher of Roopbaan, the only LGBTI magazine in Bangladesh. He founded the magazine in 2014, a groundbreaking move that have the local LGBTIQ+ community a voice.

In 2016 he received death threats after he tried to organise a youth LGBT Rainbow Rally in early April. On 25th April Mannan was killed in his apartment along with LGBT activist Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy in a stabbing attack shortly after he had posted pictures of himself on the Internet and openly declaring he was gay.

Witness claimed they saw several men leaving his apartment shouting “Allahu Akbar” – Allah is great. Ansar-al-Islam, a terrorist organisation linked to Al-Qaida, later claimed responsibility for the killings.

In 2019 eight men were identified and charged by Bangladeshi police, four of the men were in custody, while police searched for the remaining offenders.

OIP Staff

Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

QLife: 1800 184 527 / qlife.org.au (Webchat 3pm – midnight)
QLife are a counselling and referral service for LGBTQIA+ people.

DISCHARGED: 9364 6909 / waamh.org.au / [email protected]
Discharged is a trans-led support service with peer support groups for trans and gender diverse folks.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 / lifeline.org.au

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 / www.beyondblue.org.au

You can support our work by subscribing to our Patreon
or contributing to our GoFundMe campaign.