The University of Tasmania yesterday created veteran LGBTIQ activist Rodney Croome an honorary doctor of letters. Rodney noted with gratitude the support of his partner Raf, his mother, and his late father. He also spoke of the “many courageous and kind people I work with to advance equality.”
1988 Salamanca Markets
Rodney Croome first came to national attention as an activist when police arrested him at Hobart’s Salamanca markets in 1988. That year the Tasmanian Gay Law Reform Group set up an information stall in the markets. The council declared their markets off-limits to homosexuals. They laid down a yellow line and ordered the arrest of any activists who crossed the line or who wore badges with the words ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ or an image of a pink triangle.
The Tasmanian Gay Law Reform Group was not deterred.
Rodney remembers his arrest with typical good humour.
“A burly sergeant approaches me: ‘Under the authority of the Hobart City Council, as manager of this market, I ask that you leave the market at once. If you refuse, you will be placed under arrest.’
“I refuse and, as he arrests me, he grabs the gay law reform petition in my hand. He looks down the list of signatories and then rips the sheet into tiny pieces.”
The young student from a dairy farm in Tasmania’s northwest said, “I was arrested for being gay before I’d even danced with another man.”
During the next two months, the police arrested more than 130 activists. Eventually, the council realised that the arrests did not deter the activists and merely attracted bad publicity. They dropped the ban.
They also dropped charges once they realised the legality of the arrests was questionable.
For Rodney and his fellow activists, the battle continued.
Rodney Croome and Tasmanian Decriminalisation
Tasmanian law penalised homosexuality with the most draconian laws in the western world — up to 25 years imprisonment.
As Tasmania’s LGBTIQ communities watched other states decriminalise homosexuality, their own government steadfastly refused to budge.
Finally, to force the issue, Rodney and his partner walked into Hobart Police Station and confessed to the crime of homosexuality.
That action resulted in appeals to the High Court of Australia and the United Nations. As a result, in 1997, Tasmania finally became the last Australian jurisdiction to decriminalise homosexuality.
Rodney Croome and same-sex marriage
As one of the first Australian advocates for same-sex marriage in 2004, Rodney dedicated the next 13 years of his life fighting for what many along the way saw as a lost cause.
Of course, in 2017, Australians voted overwhelmingly for marriage equality.
Appointed a Member of the Order of Australian in 2003, in 2015 his state named Rodney Tasmanian of the Year.
He continues his advocacy for the LGBTIQ communities. The efforts of he and other Tasmanian activists have been particularly rewarding in the area of Trans rights.
With fellow activists Ivan Hinton-Teoh, Brian Grieg and Sharon Dane, Rodney founded just.equal, an organisation dedicated to everyone in our community having the same rights, choices and opportunities to be equal.
Following the awarding of the honour, just.equal spokesperson, Ivan Hinton-Teoh spoke on behalf of the organisation.
“Rodney has spent his entire adult life advocating for the dignity, equality and inclusion of LGBTIQ Australians. It is only fitting that his university has recognised his experience, knowledge and contribution in this way.”
“On behalf of the entire just.equal team, and countless Australians, I congratulate Rodney on an important acknowledgement for a remarkable Australian.”
QNews thanks Dr. Rodney Croome, for his decades of service to Australia’s LGBTIQ communities, a service we know will continue as long as he has breath in his body.
Help Rodney Croome and just.equal in the fight for Equal Rights For All. Click on the banner below and sign the petition.
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