'Homosexual health hazards': Public discourse on homosexuality and medicine in Australia, 1973-1984

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Book Chapter

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Wilson, E. J. (2011). 'Homosexual health hazards': Public discourse on homosexuality and medicine in Australia, 1973-1984. In Y. Smaal & G. Willett (Eds.), Out here: Gay and lesbian perspectives VI (pp.69-87). Melbourne: Monash University Publishing.

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2011 HERDC submission. FoR code: 210303

© Copyright Monash University Press, 2011





This chapter examines public discourse on homosexuality and medicine in Australia from 1973 to 1984. It utilises the Medical Journal of Australia (the dominant national medical periodical during this period) as well as mainstream newspaper sources, drawing comparisons between the two. Discourse in newspapers illuminates a period of unprecedented public debate on homosexuality. Officially, the medical community was abandoning its previous claims to authority on homosexuality, but prejudices about the nature of homosexuality continued to influence biomedical conceptualisations and interpretations of clinical data. At the same time, both journalists and correspondents to newspapers continued to rely on medical authority when discussing homosexuality. This was apparent among those who supported homosexual rights and law reform. It was also apparent among those who opposed these trends, and among this latter group there was a noticeable conflation of medicine and morality, as reflected in the title of this chapter.

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