Resource Type

The LGBTQ+ Rights Movement

  • History
  • Society and Culture
  • Unit 2: Movements for Change in the 20th century
  • Women's Studies

The LGBTQ+ Rights Movement

All British colonies, including South Australia, inherited British laws, and some of these related to sexual behaviour. As a result, in the early years of the colony, sexual activity between men was a capital crime that could result in execution – although homosexuality itself was not illegal. Thankfully, no one in South Australia was ever executed under this law, and SA was one of the first states to revise these penalties. The punishment for same-sex activity was reduced from execution to imprisonment here in 1877, and other states followed at different times. Over the last 60 years, LGBTQ+ campaigners have played an integral role in changing laws and attitudes affecting almost every aspect of daily life. The LGBTQ+ community celebrates the gains it has made and LGBTQ+ lives at events such as Sydney Lesbian and Gay Mardi Gras and Adelaide’s Feast Festival.

The LGBTQ+ Rights Movement



Year 10


AC9HH10K07 – the effects of significant post–World War II world events, ideas and developments on Australian society

AC9HH10K08 – the causes of changes in perspectives, responses, beliefs and values on migration that have influenced Australian society since 1945

AC9HH10K12 – the significant events, individuals and groups in the women’s movement in Australia, and how they have changed the role and status of women

AC9HH10K16 – causes and effects of the significant events and developments of the major global influences on Australia in the post-World War II period

AC9HH10K17 – changing social, political, economic, cultural, environmental and technological conditions, and the causes of a major global influence in Australia

AC9HH10K18 – continuities and changes in perspectives, responses, beliefs and values that have influenced the Australian way of life


Modern History

Society and Culture

Women’s Studies

Discussion Questions

Describe some of the LGBTQ+ Movement’s pivotal moments and events that pushed people to demand change.

Over time, we often see corresponding changes between laws and attitudes in society. Do public laws set the tone for what is acceptable, or do societal values dictate laws and policy?

Don Dunstan was a great advocate for positive change as Premier of South Australia. What do you know about Don Dunstan’s work in this space? What other people have been important to the LGBTQ+ movement?


Use this video in conjunction with the “Social Movements in South Australia: a Guide for Teachers” to get the most out of your learning

Social Movements in South Australia

Where to Next?

To learn more about the LGBTQ+ Rights Movement

Visit the Centre of Democracy

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