Publication Details

Dreher, T. "Pinkwashing the past: gay rights, military history and the sidelining of protest in Australia." Onati Socio-Legal Series 6 .1 (2016): 116-136.


This paper explores the implications of the militarisation of Australian history and the dilemmas of increasing public support for same-sex marriage in Australia at a time of renewed assaults on Indigenous rights, austerity measures and the silencing of dissent. The paper analyses the celebratory rhetoric which increasingly typifies both marriage equality campaigns and the commemoration of Australia's First World War or 'Anzac' history in popular media and public debate. Against the confluence between ongoing debates on same-sex marriage and the 'Anzac myth', I highlight four key challenges: the silencing of dissent; forgetting of the Frontier Wars; untold stories of civil society achievements; and the normalising of same-sex rights. I argue that professed support for a liberal version of 'gay rights' exemplified by same-sex marriage, set against a militarized version of Australian history, glosses over past and ongoing injustices. A militarized version of history underpins a nationalism that misrepresents credit for advances in rights recognition, sidelining public representations of Indigenous sovereignties and the contributions of civil society, protest and social justice campaigning to the recognition and maintenance of civil and political rights. As a result, the transformative claims of Land Rights and Treaty, critiques of war, and queer politics, are contained.