The launch came less than a week after the Hobart City Council apology ( Here )for the arrests at Salamanca Market 20 years ago.


The proximity of the two events was not a coincidence.


The reputation (and budget) of Tasmania Police were severely dented by the arrests.


In their wake TasPol decided to turn its policy on LGBT issues around, to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.


It appointed LGBT liaison officers, began recruit training in LGBT issues and went on to establish LGBT community liaison committees.


Not only was it one of the first police services in the nation to do this, it was the first Tasmanian Government agency to recognise and consult with the LGBT community.


What’s more it did all this despite the fact that male-to-male sex and cross-dressing were still against the law.


TasPol led the way towards the more enlightened official attitude to sexual and gender diversity that prevails in Tasmania in the 21st century.


And just as led then, so it continues to lead.


Because of greater tolerance, more LGBT people are staying in, or moving to, Tasmania’s suburban, regional and rural areas.


Some find the friendly welcome that is the promise of these places. Others do not.


For those who don’t the TasPol LGBT liaison officers provide an important life line.


In response to this need, the Tasmania Police recently trained a number of new LGBT liaison officers, bringing the total to 13 (the largest per capita of any state).


To ensure these officers are accessible TasPol produced the promotional materials that were launched yesterday.


They will be distributed to police stations, LGBT organisations, service clubs, doctors surgeries and government agencies across the state.


*


The Salamanca apology received an immense amount of coverage in Tasmania, with newspaper features, live crosses to the evening news, and interviews with former arrestees.


But there was almost no coverage in the mainland, mainstream media.


Before you jump in with “but it was a local story”, let me remind you that just last year anti-gay hate mail and graffiti directed at a gay developer in the NW Tasmanian town of Penguin was given top billing ( Here ) by the big-city broadsheets and Today Tonight.


Clearly, the national media and its audience is only interested in Tasmania when it fails to be tolerant, never when it succeeds.


As many have said before, this is because the nation needs Tasmania to look bad so it can feel better about itself.


Of course, it works the other way too.


I suspect one of the reasons the apology was so widely covered in Tasmania was our need to feel good about ourselves.


I was recently reminded of the centrality of sexual tolerance to Tasmanian identity when I discovered that the regular government-funded, Tasmanian Community Survey, ( Here ) which is mostly about attitudes to things like health services and crime rates, includes the question, “how accepting do you believe Tasmanians are of people with a different sexual orientation?”.


Note, the question is not about how accepting the respondent is, but how accepting s/he believes we all are (FTR, the results were deeply polarised between those who think we are accepting and those who don’t).


Clearly, Tasmania’s attitude to sexual difference is as central to how Tasmanians see themselves as it is to how other Australians see Tasmanians.


Cultural analysis aside, the cost of this anti-Tasmanian stereotyping is that the impact of initiatives like the apology, especially when it comes to inspiring hope and optimism, is severely curtailed.


In an effort to counteract the anti-Tasmanian bias in Australia’s national DNA, here’s a few visual reminders of events last week.


Click here - http://www.hobartcity.com.au/go/uploads/Pictures.zip -  for a selection of the Hobart City Council’s official photographic record of the event,  Here for a YouTube of the Lord Mayor reading the apology, and Here for a YouTube of the response from Yours Truly (both YouTube recordings are also by the HCC).


Also, for those interested, check out Alderman and former arrestee, Eva Ruzicka’s response here to a conflict-of-interest complaint against her support for the apology, as well as a moving response to the apology from former PFLAG President, Els McIntosh.


Money quote,


“Until Wednesday night we had not realised the constriction that we still carried. But when Lord Mayor Rob Valentine offered a most moving apology, we felt it lift: maybe there was a place for our son and people like him as full citizens of the world after all.”

 

Rodney Croome http://www.rodneycroome.id.au/weblog
On Tuesday, Assistant Tasmanian Police Commissioner, Steve Bond, launched a new publicity program ( Here ) for TasPol’s LGBT liaison officers, including flyers, brochures and posters.