THE Australian Homosexual Histories Conference 2014, to be held in late November at the University of Technology, Sydney, will focus on the history of homosexual law reforms across Australia.

The conference also looks at how, in two generations since the beginnings of gay liberation in Australia, we have come to a point where lesbians and gays not only have legal protections but also fight for marriage equality.

One hundred and fifty years ago, the last judicial-sanctioned execution of a homosexual man took place in Australia. According to Pride History Group (PHG), the conference organiser, it was the last of 10 now written out of our history — and mostly forgotten.

Meanwhile, only 30 years ago in NSW men could be sent to jail for having sex with other men. Depending on what they did, it could be a sentence from six months up to 14 years for “the abominable crime of buggery”.

Lesbians weren’t even recognised within the legal system.

“How is it then that in the space of two generations, Australia has moved so decisively against discrimination against lesbians and gay men – in the law, in employment, even in the military – and now we are debating marriage equality?” PHG’s Robert French said.

The answer to this — and to other related questions about the history of the lives lived by homosexuals in Australia — will be explored conference on November 28-29.

‘These Conferences, over the past decade, have proved to be of enormous benefit in expanding our understanding of the place of gays and lesbians in Australian history,” said French, who worked for the National Archives of Australia for over 30 years and was heavily involved in NSW’s homosexual law reform campaign in the early 1980s.

“I fully expect that this Sydney Conference will also contribute in important ways to that understanding.”

The conference will be dedicated to the memory of gay activist Alexander “Lex” Watson.

Registrations are still open. Visit: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/australian-homosexual-histories-conference-2014-tickets-12541169977?aff=es2&rank=1

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