Police officer meets Tasmanian LGBT activist Rodney Croome, 30 years after arresting him during Salamanca market protests

Thirty-four years ago, a newly graduated young police officer, Tim Dooley, arrested LGBTQI activist Rodney Croome, who was calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality in Tasmania. Last week, the two met for the first time after more than three decades under very different circumstances.

It was only the second meeting between Cooley, now Tasmanian Police Commander, and Croome, a former Tasmanian of the Year, who was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his LGBTQI activism in 2003.

“I remember Agent Dooley was very quiet and withdrawn then. My hunch was that he didn’t want to spend his Saturday arresting gay protesters,” Croome said. star gazer about the 1988 arrest at Salamanca Market in Hobart.

The traumatic arrests were a turning point

Croome recalls that in 1988, the relationship of the LGBTQI community with the local police was “at an all-time low”.

In 1988, Tasmania’s LGBTQI community began their decade-long battle to demand the repeal of the law that criminalized homosexuality with up to 21 years in prison. They rented a stall in Salamanca Market in Hobart to collect signatures from the public to drum up support for the cause.

In October 1988 Hobart City Council banned the stand and called the police. Over the next seven weeks, police arrested around 130 LGBTQI activists who defied the ban, which was finally lifted on December 10, 1988.

Croome, who was one of the activists arrested by Constable Dooley and another officer, said the arrests were “traumatic but also a turning point”. In May 1997, Tasmania became the last jurisdiction in Australia to decriminalize homosexuality.

In 2008 the council apologized for the arrests and in 2013 unveiled a public piece of art to commemorate the LGBTQI community’s fight for equality.

Officer and LGBTQI activist share a hug

(Left to right) Commander Tim Dooley, Rodney Croome and Commissioner Darren Hine.

On September 17, 2022, Croome met Commander Dooley for the first time after the 1988 arrest, for the unveiling of a timeline outlining the relationship between Tasmania Police and the LGBTQI community. The two met under the 1988 arrest photo and shared a hug.

“It was wonderful to see him again and get to know him. We talked about how overwhelming it was for two people in their twenties to be involved in such an important event,” Croome said, adding, “ In typical Tasmanian fashion, we discovered that a hill near my house is named after one of his ancestors.

“It’s symbolic of all that has changed that we came together, at an event dedicated to a better relationship between the police and the LGBTIQA+ community, looking at a picture of our younger selves who had the like coming from another world,” Croome said. .

Much can be done to repair relations between the police and the LGBTQI community

Police Commissioner Darren Hine, who started the timeline at the Tasmanian Police Academy, said it was important to “recognize these darker times” and consider how far relations between police and the community had progressed over the past three decades.

The Commissioner highlighted the establishment of Tasmania Police’s first Gay and Lesbian Police Liaison Committee in 1998, which has now evolved into the LGBTIQA+ Strategic Working Group.

According to Croome, there is still a long way to go to repair the relationship and referred to research by Tasmania Police, which found that “there are still problems, especially with the police response to domestic violence homosexual; police interaction with trans, gender diverse and non-binary people; hate crime reporting and workplace inclusion of LGBTIQA+ police personnel. »

“But the positive changes we have seen give me hope that Tasmania Police and representatives of Tasmania’s LGBTIQA+ community will continue to work together to keep LGBTIQA+ people safe and fair,” Croome said.

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