9. Why did the Sydney Morning Herald publish their names, ages, addresses and occupations?

When The Sydney Morning Herald outed most of arrestees, GSG wrote to the editor arguing that The Herald was not bound to publish these details. When it named them, it was denying the presumption of their innocence, implying that they were all homosexuals and could incite poofter bashing. The editor replied that it was The Herald’s job to ‘keep the community in touch with the courts by reporting on representative or significant cases’. When a magistrate suppressed a miscreant’s names, The Herald respected his decision. However, if The Herald decided not to publish names its critics could say it was covering-up for rank and privilege. Publicity, the editor argued, has always deterred law-breakers. This warranted two letters. A Mrs Garnsey thought that press should respect protesters’ privacy. And Kendall Lovett argued that The Herald’s publicity could incite intolerance and unwarranted victimization.

39 years later, The Herald acknowledged that its ‘discrimination… was wrong and unjust’.

Its editor-in-chief argued that it was ‘the custom and practice at the day’ but that this had led to further discrimination and some people had lost their jobs and homes (SMH 24.4.2016). They were still getting it wrong.

Authors: Gavin Harris and John Witte.

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