Content caution: Incarceration, LGBTQIA phobia, Indigenous incarceration, physical violence, suicidal ideation, aversion treatment

ALGA provides various material regarding struggles for prison change and jail abolition. This version of out from the Archives will unearth several of this background.


istorically, queers have-been targeted by state assault, but still are nowadays. It’s wonder that so much of your history can also be tangled up with all the struggles for prisoner liberties, and prisoner support. There are two main key samples of this at ALGA, that are the focus of this piece, therefore the next release of outside of the Archives.

Let’s start
Sandra Willson
‘s tale, through the archive of females Behind Bars. Produced in 1939, Sandra was actually ridiculed most of her life for being a lesbian. At 17, she was living with her girl and this woman’s mummy discovered letters that Sandra had written to the lady.

The mother reported Sandra to your authorities, in a period in which homosexuality had been unlawful. Lesbianism was not illegal. It is sometimes complicated to understand the reason why this was the situation, but it’s possible that some of the reason ended up being due to the generally held nineteenth 100 years notion that unlike guys, ladies didn’t have strong intimate desires, therefore the likelihood of women becoming intimately interested in additional women did not occur to male political leaders regarding the period.

Lesbians were, but harassed and criminalised by authorities under a range of offences, including ‘offensive behavior’ lawful restrictions which were used precisely against lesbians and homosexual guys in many states.


andra was provided for Parramatta’s ladies Residence. This establishment has become uncovered several times for its terrible cruelty, misuse and overlook. It absolutely was in which many women just who transgressed gender and/or sex norms had been sent to be “reformed.” It was also where lots of Indigenous young women were compelled to live, far from their loved ones, and treated horrendously.

The real history within this destination is gruelling. Sandra was forced to undergo aversion therapy, which we know is actually profoundly distressful and potentially highly terrible.

Image due to ALGA

Whenever Sandra finally could keep, she started teaching as a nurse at a psychological hospital. Indeed there, she hit upwards a relationship with a female. But another staff realised and convinced the woman it actually was immoral. The woman ended it.

The archives have Sandra’s response:

I moved into circumstances of shock… We decided destroying myself immediately… By a long train of events I decided that destroying my self alone was no-good – men and women could well be glad observe me gone – so if We killed one of them, ‘society’, somebody would weep and perhaps end up being sorry that they had interfered inside my existence and my personal to stay.

Sandra subsequently murdered an arbitrary taxi motorist. She passed herself directly into police a couple of days later on.

Her hearing lasted a couple of hours, as a doctor mentioned she was actually outrageous, additionally the jury voted for her committed, the year was 1958. In 1971, she was declared not ridiculous, and delivered to Silverwater Correctional Centre.

She ended up being never ever found guilty and sentenced to prison time, as a result of the promises of the woman insanity, so therefore it was debateable the reason why she ended up being utilized in a prison.


hen Women Behind Bars started campaigning on her release, she was in fact confined for 17 decades. At the time, the longest sentence for murder in NSW was 13 many years. The class campaigning for her release advertised that:

Sandra Willson still is in prison for just two reasons: she’s endured every make an effort to destroy her will and, while she repents the lady criminal activity, she doesn’t repent the woman lesbianism.

Sandra Willson ended up being ultimately released after 18 years of incarceration. She became an activist on the exterior at the same time, and demonstrated Guthrie House, the most important halfway household for females exiting prison.

She died in 1999 on age of 60.

Sandra’s tale is very important in queer history, because she does not suit the nice box of delighted individuals and white wedding events. Queer solidarity with all of inmates has always been important since queers are often at the mercy of condition physical violence, since archives exhibit, so when we nevertheless see today both in Australia, and worldwide.

Jess Ison has been doing a PhD and tutoring at Los Angeles Trobe University about land of this Wurundjeri men and women. Jess will be the representative your Institute for Critical Animal reports and a rescuer when it comes to Coalition Against Duck Shooting. Of all evenings Jess can be located ranting about jail abolition, fermentation and high heel shoes.

Nick Henderson is actually a curator and archivist, with an interests for obtaining, keeping and honoring Australia’s queer and gender varied records. Of many Facebook teams Nick are present spamming articles or pictures from the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, or attempting to seduce newbie volunteers to join the archives.

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