Former High Court judge Michael Kirby will tomorrow night (Wednesday, March 9) launch an exhibition celebrating 40 years of the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service of NSW (GLCS), which began life as the gay and lesbian rights group, the Campaign Against Moral Persecution (CAMP).

The Opening the Archives exhibition celebrates 40 years of activism and how far we’ve come through displays of publications, images and objects in a timeline from the 1970s to today.

“CAMP was the first openly lesbian and gay activist organisation in Australia and an integral part of the struggle towards equal rights,” GLCS co-president Jo Penhallurick said.

“It was formed at a time when to be openly homosexual was to risk your employment, house, family acceptance and personal safety from assault, vilification and arrest or institutionalisation. There were none of the legal protections that we have today in Australia to protect people against such discrimination and persecution 40 years ago.”

The group had its genesis when neighbours John Ware and Christabel Poll outed themselves in a 1970 article in The Australian newspaper and announced the formation of the group.

A year later Lex Watson and Sue Wills were elected its first co-presidents.

CAMP quickly began receiving calls for help and in 1973 added a telephone counselling service, Phone-A-Friend, which continued under CAMP’s company registration to become the Gays Counselling Service in 1983, and then the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service of NSW in 1990.

The exhibition launch is from 6pm at the GLCS building in Newtown with the show then opening Thursday through Friday from 4-7.30pm and 10am-12.30pm on Saturday.

Viewings outside these hours can be arranged through GLCS.

Michael Kirby will formally open the exhibition at 7pm and will be followed by speakers from the early years of CAMP and the GLCS.

A gold coin donation on entry will help the GLCS cover costs.

info: Opening the Archives launch, 10 Bedford St, Newtown, Wednesday, March 9, 6-8.30pm.

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