In what is being heralded as an international first, the Australian state of Victoria’s Parliament has just formally apologized to generations of gay men (and the larger LGBTQI Community) for the systematic persecution and destruction of human dignity enforced by the State through its anti-homosexual statutes.
In one of many remarkable passages, the Victorian Premier,the Hon. Daniel Matthews, declares,
” Speaker, it is the first responsibility of a Government to keep people safe. But the Government didn’t keep LGBTI people safe.
The Government invalidated their humanity and cast them into a nightmare.
And those who live today are the survivors of nothing less than a campaign of destruction, led by the might of the State.”
The Premier continues by recounting the remarkable stories of survivors from this odious time period when representative governments worldwide created and enforced these destructive laws.
It is his final words of apology that are truly ground breaking:
If you are a member of the LGBTI community, and there’s someone in your life that you love – a partner or a friend – then do me a favour:
Next time you’re on a tram in Melbourne, hold their hand.
Do it with pride and defiance.
Because you have that freedom.
And here in the progressive capital, I can think of nothing more Victorian than that.
Speaker, it’s been a life of struggle for generations of Victorians.
As representatives, we take full responsibility.
We criminalised homosexual thoughts and deeds. We validated homophobic words and acts.
And we set the tone for a society that ruthlessly punished the different – with a short sentence in prison, and a life sentence of shame.
From now on, that shame is ours.
This Parliament and this Government are to be formally held to account for designing a culture of darkness and shame.
And those who faced its sanction, and lived in fear, are to be formally recognised for their relentless pursuit of freedom and love.
It all started here. It will end here, too.
To our knowledge, no jurisdiction in the world has ever offered a full and formal apology for laws like these.
So please, let these words rest forever in our records:
“On behalf of the Parliament, the Government and the people of Victoria.
For the laws we passed.
And the lives we ruined.
And the standards we set.
We are so sorry. Humbly, deeply, sorry.”
Read the entire apology here.
Watch it here: