On This Gay Day: Victorian Police raided the Tasty Nightclub

Victorian Police raid Tasty, resulting in a $10 million lawsuit

On the 7th of August 1994, dozens of police officers entered the Tasty club night in Melbourne, then detained and strip searched, and in some cases cavity searched, 463 people over seven hours.

Tasty was a regular club night that was known as a popular alternative venue frequented by a large number of LGBTI people. Armed police raided the venue, they detained hundreds of people and forced some of them to be strip searched at the venue in front of other patrons.

The exact reasons for the raid has remained unclear, police later suggested it was because of reported drug activity in the club, but it has also been suggested that homophobia played a large part in the decision to target the venue. Despite there being hundreds of people in the venue only two drug arrests were made, and all charges were later dropped.

A number of the patrons present on the night in question came forward in legal action against the Victoria Police, which successfully won victims up to $10 million in compensation.

Ten years after the event a documentary The Tasty Bust Reunion captured the recollections of many of the people who were detained.

In 2014, twenty years after the event Victorian Police formally apologised for their actions. In an address at the Victoria Police Museum, Acting Chief Commissioner Lucinda Nolan said the raid had caused significant long term damage to the relationship between police and the LGBTI community.

“The events that took place that night caused distress to people who were in attendance and had a significant impact on the relationship between Victoria Police and the wider LGBTI community,” she said.

“It is therefore appropriate, as we near the 20th anniversary of this incident, that Victoria Police extends a sincere apology to the community members who were affected by events on that night.

“We also extend a general apology to the broader LGBTI community for the impact this event has had on our relationship over the past two decades.” she said.

Ronald Reagan says “AIDS” for the first time

What is now know as HIV was first detected in 1981, in 1982 the acronym AIDS was officially adopted, but it took US President Ronald Reagan another five years before he publicly said the AIDS in a speech or official comments.

On this day in 1987 he used the phrase for the first time. The US President’s silence on the issue has been one of the greatest criticisms of his administration. By the time President Reagan said AIDS for the first time, 37,000 Americans had been diagnosed and 21,000 Americans had died.

The President had only mentioned the pandemic a few times over successive terms in office. In 1985 he expressed skepticism at the medical advice which declared it was safe for children who were HIV positive to continue attending school.

Alongside his slow response to the AIDS crisis, Reagan was staunchly opposed to LGBTI rights. On the campaign trail in 1980 he said he could never condone the lifestyle lead by gay people, saying; “My criticism is that [the gay movement] isn’t just asking for civil rights; it’s asking for recognition and acceptance of an alternative lifestyle which I do not believe society can condone, nor can I.”

Remembering Kermit Love

Puppeteer Kermit Love was born on this day in 1916. While he worked on many artistic projects during his long career Love is most fondly remembered for his contributions to The Muppet Show and Sesame Street. Love designed the iconic characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, both of which were played by performer Caroll Spinney.

He also helped design Mr Snuffleupagus and Cookie Monster. Later he would mentor Kevin Clash, who would go on to create the character Elmo. Love lived with his partner Christopher Lyall for over 50 years. He passed away in 2008 aged 91.

OIP Staff, this post was first published on 7th August 2020. 

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