Friday, February 03, 2012

Not so Tasty

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s Victorian Police often targeted gay venues, including sex on premises venues, SOPVs. A friend was at a sopv known as Club 80 in the late eighties when it was raided by police. For what reason, who knows. No one was charged that he knew of. Each person's details were recorded, including my friend who's name was John Smith, well, so far as the police knew. He was not the type to take crap and was very challenging and lippy with them.

But then came 1994 and the raid that stopped all subsequent raids on gay venues. Tasty nightclub was in the Commerce Building in Flinders Street. We went there once. It was a good and relaxed venue with a great vibe. It was a mix of gay people, lesbians, transgender, drag queens and very gay friendly straights. The only other place I have been that was so mixed and so friendly among the mix was the Builders Arms in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. We knew what went on down below at Tasty, but we didn't venture down there, not for any reason other than we were there with friends and having a good time.

In August 1994 an absolute outrage occurred at Tasty when the police raided the venue. This was a raid to end all raids. Patrons were lined up against walls and strip searched within view of everyone. Some were detained for up to seven hours. A few illegal drug pills were found on the floor, which is remarkable considering there were around 460 people at the venue.

Imagine what it must have been like for a transgender to have to get naked in front of umpteen people. I'd be angry just by my night out being spoilt.

The Kennett state government had been elected only two years before and the police force thought they we in a very strong and powerful position after years of the Labor government. Police Commissioner of the time Neil Comrie certainly had the ear of Kennett's government and many excesses happened under his leadership.

Shortly after the event, a policewoman asked me for some directions. I gave her the information required, she said thanks, and I said to her, 'See, I can be nice, in spite of Tasty'. She just grimaced.

I had forgotten, but Ms Ann O'Dyne reminded me that the class action taken by many of the patrons against the police was run by lawyer Gary Singer who went on to become Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne.

One person I knew joined the action and received a payout of about $10,000. Unfortunately because they did not want to be outed or did not want it to be known that they were at the venue, many did not join in the class action. As it was, the bill for the government came to over ten million dollars. Rephrased, bad police behaviour cost Victorian taxpayers ten million dollars.

There is no doubt in my mind that pure homophobia provoked the raid. The patrons were just out to have a good night, like they had many times before. They did not deserve to be detained or publicly humiliated by being strip searched. The Kennett years were a very bad period in Victoria's history.

And I will slap the first person who says, Kennett had to do what he did as the state was broke. Victoria was never broke.

19 comments:

  1. Excellent post!! And one you - or anyone - should never have had to to do. Those times in the 90s were not good - a letting loose of prejudice and bigotry to say the least, in my view. A colleague in the counselling organisation I worked at the time, a gay man, subsequently did much to develop counselling programs for gay couples, training the rest of us - I had not linked that to this event as such but it may well have been part of a broader move.

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  2. I remember the raid on the Tasty it was quite disgraceful the way the police paraded people before media crews or anybody else for that matter. I agree the kennett years were a bad time for all Victorians and yes Victoria was never broke it was just an excuse to do what he had to do :-).

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  3. Christine, I have heard of such counselling programs, and while they are not for me, I think they are invaluable. It is a pity that Beyond Blue is not so proactive.

    Windsmoke, Victoria being broke is what Kennett supporters used to and still do trot out. Apparently it excuses every bad thing Kennett ever did.

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  4. The ABC had a terrific documentary about this raid.
    Any truth to the rumour that a certain Premier's son was hustled out the back door?

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  5. Andrew; another post to fill the vacuum in my head. I'd forgotten all about this and, had I remembered, would not have made the link with Jeff.
    Utterly Unforgivable.
    Again, what the heck is/was someone like him doing in an organisation like Beyond Blue?

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  6. Jah Teh, I suppose I would have seen the doco at the time, but I can't remember it. I hadn't heard that rumour, and the age doesn't seem right. But I am notorious for thinking things were just yesterday.

    FruitCake, I am hopeless. What link to Kennett? I just read today that he is no longer boss person at BB.

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  7. I had no idea that such a backward event occurred as recently as 1994. Bloody Jeff!

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  8. Yeah... Don't get me started on what Kennett did to the already ailing psychiatric institutions and healthcare in the 80's. we are still seeing the ill effects of the cuts he made there now. Beyond Blue... My arse!

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  9. S'pose you were in Adelaide then Kath.

    Well put Cazzie. If we aren't careful, it will happen again.

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  10. It is happening again, the mental health system is completely borked but it's ignored and people go on about how far we've come. We haven't, it's just a different non working system.

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  11. Mental health is a big issue Fen. Since de-institution they are very visible and there for all to see.

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  12. Too right Fen. And so we marched alongside the Mental Health Nurses to let it be known we will not back down. Looks like we will have to do it again too.

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  13. I wasn't there but I remember the event well. Never trust the police. Homophobia is part of their forte. As for Comrie and Kennett they should get married.

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  14. Don't trust the coppers-they make me sick. Have a good night out or just do your own thing at home. No need to scared anymore-religion and the damage it has caused is declining.

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  15. Don't trust the coppers. Go and have a good time. The modern dinosaurs are due for another ice age

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  16. Does Tasty's still exist? Where would be good place to go if it has closed?

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  17. Thanks Trev and Ian for your comments. Clearly you are bored tonight. As a law abiding citizen, I trust cops up to a point, now. I think Kennett had the bigger cock (there must be some reason for his arrogance), so he fucked Comrie.

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    Replies
    1. Trev and Ian2:07 pm

      Not bored Andrew, just out of beer and pizza. Thanks for thoughts and the blog.

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    2. Cassidy12:07 am

      God bless Trev and Ian. They just want to say hello to you Andrew. They probably love you for providing a platform to speak. Baby it's cold outside so snuggle up with a book and a cup of cocoa. Trev and Ian are probably snuggling up right now with a pizza and beer. Cheers

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Whenever I wish I was young again, I am sobered by memories of algebra.