Tasmania’s Speaker of the House Sue Hickey has unveiled a permanent public memorial to LGBTI equality and the people who contributed to it.

The memorial, a new public seat on the lawns of the Tasmanian Parliament accompanied by a plaque dedicated to Tasmania’s progress towards LGBTI equality, was revealed in front of a large crowd of equality advocates and allies.

The unveiling followed a public celebration on parliament lawns of 30 years of progress on LGBTI rights since the arrests of advocates in defence of a gay law reform stall at Hobart’s Salamanca Market in 1988.

The celebration drew hundreds of LGBTI community members and supporters.

Speakers included advocates Nick Toonen, Eva Ruzicka, Lee Gwen Booth, Martine Delaney, Sam Watson and Rodney Croome, as well as musicians including Monique Brumby, Peter Hicks, Kartanya Maynard and the QTas Choir.

The crowd also heard from former and current politicians, Bob Brown, Lara Giddings, Christine Milne and Sue Hickey.

The Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group, which was formed in early 1988, announced at the event that the organisation was changing its name to the more inclusive Equality Tasmania.

The group’s new logo includes four asterisks, which was the symbol used by Tasmanian colonial officials to refer to convicts who were in same-sex relationships or didn’t conform to traditional gender roles.

Equality Tasmania spokesperson Rodney Croome said, “We gathered at Parliament House to celebrate the transformation of Tasmania from the state with the worst laws and attitudes about LGBTI people to the state with some of the best.”

“Tasmania was the last state to decriminalise homosexuality but went on to enact the nation’s best discrimination and relationship laws, and take the lead on marriage equality.

“Tasmania’s transformation was confirmed when we returned a higher Yes vote in last year’s postal survey than any other state except Victoria.

“This profound change is something all Tasmanians can be proud of and which LGBTI people across the nation can be inspired by.”

The commemorative seat and plaque unveiled by Sue Hickey was paid for by the Tasmanian Parliament and the Hobart City Council.

“I hope the seat will be a place where people can sit and reflect on how far LGBTI people and Tasmania have moved towards inclusion and equality, and how far we have yet to go,” said Croome.

The new seat is just metres from where, beginning on October 22nd 1988, 130 advocates were arrested in 1988 protesting the Hobart City Council’s decision to close down a gay law reform stall in the popular Saturday Salamanca Market.

The arrests are memorialised in a special artwork by Justy Phillips, which was put in place after the Hobart City Council apologised for ordering the arrests in 2008.

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