Union Pride – Strength in Diversity

IEU Secretary Mark Northam and Organiser Pat Devery represented the IEU at Mardi Gras on 24 February. The Union Pride - Strength In Diversity float celebrated the 50th anniversary of pink bans.

According to tradeshallsydney.wordpress.com, in June 1973, student and Gay Lib club treasurer Jeremy Fisher was expelled from a Church of England residential college at Macquarie University.

College head Alan Cole told him homosexuality was a perversion, and he had to agree to “be chaste” and accept treatment or he’d be out.

Fisher refused and took his case to the student union. They organised some on campus rallies and started calling their contacts across Sydney.

Buildings were being put up apace at Macquarie, including the residences that Fisher was staying at. The union had gone to its members and put the request for support to them.

The Builders Labourers Federation (BFL) voted that if Jeremy Fisher wasn’t reinstated then building would stop, not only at the college but on other sites at the university.

Jack Mundey, NSW Secretary of the union and a member of the CPA Communist Party of Australia, explained that “the homosexual movement had come to the Builders Labourers and said, ‘you’re against the idea of workers not having a right, well it’s the same for students not having rights’.

“Because the students and workers had joined forces against the Vietnam War and anti-apartheid, there was already a sense of solidarity between students and trade unionists,” Mundey said

“Not that every builders labourer was a galloping conservationist or women’s libber or even supporter of the rights of gays, but the union encouraged people from the various campaigns and liberation movements to address members about discrimination.”