“The overall aim of CAMP INK is to bring about a situation where homosexuals can enjoy good jobs and security in those jobs, equal treatment under the law, and the right to serve our country without fear of exposure and contempt.”
— Editor, CAMP Ink (First Edition, November 1970)
A brief history of the organisation & magazine…
In February 1971, Sydney’s first lesbian and gay political organisation, the Campaign Against Moral Persecution (CAMP Inc), was founded in St John’s Church Hall, Balmain. The organisation was established by John Ware, Christabel Poll and their partners in July 1970 with the aim of educating the general public about homosexuality and alleviating the isolation and low self-esteem experienced by many LGBTIQ people during this time. The new group found clubrooms at 393 Darling Street, Balmain, where they held meetings and parties. They also produced a lesbian and gay rights magazine called CAMP Ink as a means of communicating with supporters across the country and to build momentum behind their political organising activities.
The group’s political work focused initially on ‘coming out’ and John, Christabel and others gave media interviews in which they openly discussed their sexuality. CAMP Inc also held the first homosexual demonstration in Australia, protesting outside the Liberal Party HQ in Ash Street, Sydney, on 6 October 1971, in support of Tom Hughes, a candidate for pre-selection who supported homosexual law reform. Further demonstrations in favour of law reform and challenging discrimination against homosexuals by psychiatrists, the church and others followed.
In 1972, following a decision to establish a constitution and office-bearers for the group, Sue Wills and Lex Watson were elected co-presidents and late next year, CAMP NSW moved into new clubrooms at 33a Glebe Point Road. In April 1973, CAMP established a telephone counselling service, Phone-a-Friend. By the early 1980s, it had become the core of CAMP’s activities and a decision was taken to rename the group, the Gays Counselling Service. In 1990, following another name change, it became the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service of NSW, which continues to operate today.