Australia’s Secret, Illegal Gay Weddings “Unearthed” In 1932 Newspaper Article

secret-australian-weddingsAustralia may be lagging behind in the whole marriage equality race, having recently been lapped by neighboring New Zealand, but it seems that same-sex couples were jumping the broom down under ages ago.

An article from The Arrow  dated March 4, 1932 describes the “Wide Open Immorality Among Brisbane Perverts,” referring to the  secret, illegal ceremonies between men, which the paper claims have become “common occurrences in Queensland’s capital.” Considering Australia’s lurid history [two words: penal colony] it’s kind of hard to believe that these were the “worst cases of indecency ever unearthed” but there it is in black and white:

The growth of the pervert population of Brisbane, beautiful capital of Queensland, is astounding, and in the last year hundreds of these queer semi-feminine men have made the city their headquarters.

Now they have evolved into a cult, with two main sects, one on the north and the other on the south side of the town, with the river dividing them. And occasionally they meet at queer, indecent, degrading ceremonies when perverted lusts come into full play and shocking rituals are celebrated.

In the last two weeks there have been two “weddings” — ghastly, horrifying spectacles of painted men and primping lads united in a sacrilegious blasphemy that they call the “bonds of matrimony.”

The teatotalers at The Arrow note that these “luridly immoral gatherings” are allowed to take place without police interference and that “professional people” are invited as guests.  The publicly-celebrated honeymoons — “nightmares of evil” —  are described with an equal sense of horror, leading to a call for swift and immediate action against the city’s gay population.

After all, this kind of thing may have been acceptable in that homosexual hotbed of Berlin, “with its open homo-sexual clubs,” but not in Brisbane. Not “in the year 1932!” According to The Arrow, the occurrence of this “horrid business” proves that Brisbane “is earning for itself the name of the most wicked city in the Commonwealth.”

A name, we hope, it wears with pride till this day.

h/t: Gay Star News

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  • twoguysbrooklyn

    Damn! Add an open bar and I’m there…

  • the other Greg

    Cute, except most likely there WAS a police crackdown in response as the article demands. I’d like to think the authorities just shrugged this off, but they probably didn’t. The Brisbane library (probably on old-fashioned microfiche) may have quite a story to tell some gay historian.

  • Hank Taylor

    Sounds derogatory the way the journalist uses the words ‘penal colony’ in this article. 3 x as many ‘legal’ immigrants came to Australia from the U.K and Europe than criminals (word used lightly as they were mostly convicted for stealing food etc) in the days of settlement. Now that I have that off my chest… Our PM Julia Gillard will not legislate SSM based on political promises she made with the lower seats to gain power in the federal election, yes this pisses the general public off. Australia is very gay friendly and the majority of people are either all for SSM or simply couldn’t care less either way. I hope the rest of the world doesn’t look at articles like this and think Australia is some back water, hick country that hates gays- it’s simply not the case! I personally believe our society is more accepting of homosexuality than America is

  • murphy0071

    @the other Greg: Does the historian have to be gay or can a straight person do research also?

  • Gordon

    What they dont tell you is that the ratio of men to women at the time was 9:1 so there must have been more hanky panky in “their bush” than there was in the bush!

  • nature boy

    I’m completely ignorant about Australia’s history but previous commenters sound knowledgeable… I’m curious if the “criminals” sent to colonize Australia included men who had been arrested for homosexual acts?

  • the other Greg

    @murphy0071: Feel free to do the research. You can figure out later whether you’re gay or straight. :)

  • Andrew

    @ nature boy, the ‘criminals’ sent to colonise Aus were just men, women and children (some as young as 9) who were charged with stealing, just to live. They stole food or other items to sell to buy food.

    AS an Australian, I do have to than the US, the British sent convicts to the US but due to your War of Independence they had no where to send them. Someone suggested New Holland – now Australia – and the rest is history.

    So without the Americans’ War of Independence Aus may never have been – British.

    PS. Americans,black and white, Christian and Jewish were all on the first fleet to Australia. Great book about it called 1788.

  • Andrew

    PS – Arthur Philip – the first governor outlawed sodomy in the colonies – it was only one of the two which would get you the death penalty, yet he knew what all his men got up to on those log voyages which was very common back in the day.

  • nature boy

    @Andrew… thanks for the reply and suggestion for further reading. I guess I was somewhat fantasizing about the possible irony of sodomites being arrested and sent from Britain to Australia only to step off the ship and find the ratio of men and women there to be 9:1…. maybe not so bad after all!…. of course I’m sure the reality was quite a bit harsher than my fantasy…. but still…. the newspaper story makes it sound like the gays of the era were finding a way to have some fun and live with some degree of openness… kind of sweet in a way… I hope someone researches this more…. or even does an Australian “Brokeback Mountain” based on this newspaper story… .

  • daniwitz13

    I find it odd that Homosexuality has always been in our Society and this article going back to 1932. They have survived even to now where they are more acceptable, all the while in the system that has existed, let’s say for centuries or eons. They have the Freedoms to do their ‘thing’. It seems that existing and flourishing is NOT enough at this time in Life, but want more. Is this the case of ‘you better not get what you wish for’ Having all those good years for centuries, now trying for more, will it actually be to their peril? To be now exposed to more scrutiny, since there are many undesirable elements that never got attention before, and now in the spotlight and microscope,and to their detriment? Pity.

  • Hank Taylor

    @nature boy: not to my knowledge… Would make sense why there are so many of us (gays) tho! Lol

  • Gordon

    Ah, me! Boys will be boys! Sigh.

  • sfbeast

    The clean objective tone of the newspaper article is quite remarkable.

  • Gordon

    SFB: I agree.

Comments are closed.