The man who lead a 1994 campaign to boycott goods produced in the Australian state of Tasmania over its refusal to decriminalize homosexuality has called on people to ‘buy Tasmanian’ in the wake of state Premier Lara Giddings’ announcement that the state will legalize same-sex marriage.
In an article published today in the National Times, Peter Urmson, now chair of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras board, wrote that all Australians were now looking to the state’s example.
‘Tasmanian is now a beacon of hope for other Australians, with progressive people and strong leaders who know what is right,’ Urmson wrote.
‘I’m urging as many people as possible to buy King Island cream, Lactos cheese, Cascade beer and other Tasmanian products. It is our way to show how much we support and value how important Tasmania’s brave and principled stand is for the nation as a whole.’
Tasmania, an island state at the bottom of Australia, is known for its high quality produce and pristine environment, and has an economy based around tourism, farming and forestry.
Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome, who helped lead the 1994 United Nations legal challenge to Tasmania’s anti-gay laws which punished homosexuality with up to 21 years in prison, said Urmson’s reversal showed how well Australians had come to embracing the state’s new progressive image.
‘Taking the lead on marriage equality provides Tasmania with a unique opportunity to turn our reputation and economy around,’ Croome said.
‘Discrimination did immeasurable harm to our brand in the 1990s and in direct proportion equality will boost and prosper our brand now.’
In 1994, Urmson, then a Sydney restaurateur, sparked a nationwide boycott of Tasmania’s prominently-branded food products when he called on supporters of human rights not to buy Tasmanian.
‘Before we knew it we had 400 restaurants in the boycott and 10,000 signatures off the streets, and all before Twitter and Facebook,’ Urmson said.