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40th Anniversary of wreath-laying marks a different era for LGBTIQ+ Service Veterans and Personnel on Anzac Day

Thursday, 28 April 2022 at 2:00 am
DEFGLIS members and friends at the Shrine of Remembrance Sanctuary pictured with a Rainbow Wreath
DEFGLIS members and supporters: From left: GPCAPT Mick Jansen, FLTLT Danie Bunting, FLGOFF(AAFC) Dan Morris, FLTLT Brad Milsteed, FLTLT Lachlan Saunders, Stuart Martin, Bron Richardson, LTCOL Kristy Hudson, Sameer Mane

This Anzac Day, Representatives of the Defence Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Information Service (DEFGLIS) laid a wreath in the hallowed Sanctuary at the Shrine of Remembrance on behalf of their community.

Earlier, an estimated 50,000 people attended the Anzac Day Dawn Service, reflecting the public’s enduring commitment to honour the service and sacrifice of generations of Victorians.

The wreath-laying has particular significance as this year marks 40 years since a group of ex-servicemen was denied the right to lay a wreath at the Shrine in honour of gay and lesbian people who had served and died in war.

Thankfully, public and government attitudes have since changed. In 1992, the ban on gay and lesbian personnel serving in the Australian Defence Force was lifted, followed by the lifting of the ban of transgender personnel in 2010, and since 2015 DEFGLIS have laid a wreath at the Shrine on Anzac Day.

Nevertheless, forty years on, we recognize this incident and the pain it caused.

Shrine of Remembrance CEO, Dean Lee, states “As a memorial that honours the service and sacrifice of all Victorians and Australians in war and peacekeeping, the Shrine seeks to be inclusive and reflective of the Victorian community it serves, to provide a place where all are welcome. We recognise that 40 years ago this event excluded members of the LGBTIQ+ community: a deeply regrettable event.''

The Shrine is committed to prioritising inclusivity in our services and programming and on 1 August 2022, a new exhibition at the Shrine will draw attention to the diverse experiences and stories of LGBTQ+ service people and celebrate their incredible contribution to service—often in the face of discrimination, marginalisation and silencing. The exhibition is an opportunity for the voices of people who have served their country to be heard, celebrated and acknowledged, without stripping them of an essential aspect of who they are.

Defending with Pride: Stories of LGBTQ+ Service is being developed in close liaison with community representatives including: Todd Fernando, the Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities; Professor Noah Riseman, Australian Catholic University; Dr Graham Willet, Melbourne University and the Australian Queer Archives; Racheal Cosgrove, President, DEFGLIS.

President of DEFGLIS Racheal Cosgrove says ‘’The significance of coming together as a community on the 40th anniversary, to reflect on the sacrifices and pay tribute to the LGBTIQ+ ex and current serving members, shows the journey we have done and continue to travel for the inclusion of all. I am extremely honoured to have the support from the Shrine in the development of their exhibition and the Rainbow Wreath Ceremony 2022.”

The exhibition Defending with Pride: Stories of LGBTQ+ Service is supported by the Department of Veterans' Affairs Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grants Program.

A colourful wreath positioned at the Stone of Remembrance at the Shrine in Melbourne


To request an interview with Shrine CEO Dean Lee or for more information please contact:

Terri King / Pitch Projects at 0488036740