Australian Lesbians Are Honoring A Couple Arrested For Holding Hands In 1976

Women throughout Australia are sharing photos of themselves holding hands in public.

In 1976, two women were convicted of "offensive behavior" for holding hands on a trolley in Melbourne.

Now, more than 40 years later, older lesbian couples throughout Australia are grasping hands in public to honor the unnamed pair. It's part of a campaign launched by Alice's Garage, which promotes the rights and dignity of elderly LGBT people.

"LGBTI histories are often viewed collectively," Alice's Garage director Catherine Barrett told BuzzFeed. "But older lesbian’s experiences of homophobia were compounded by patriarchal views. And yet these women found ways to resist and survive."

The campaign, titled "Tram," was launched in partnership with photographer Lisa White and LGBT community organization Switchboard Victoria. Couples of all ages are encouraged to use the #Tram hashtag on social media.

It isn't known what happened to the couple arrested in 1976—their case was brought to light again last year when Victoria premier Daniel Andrews referenced it in his official state apology for anti-gay laws.

In his remarks, Andrews urged members of the LBGT community to "hold hands on a tram" as a continued symbol of resilience against homophobia.

The groups involved in the "Tram" project also plan to collect and share archival documentation of older lesbians' experiences.

In February, the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) launched a "Hold Tight" campaign encouraging gay couples to not be afraid to hold hands.

According to ANZ's research, more than half of gay couples in Australia "felt uncomfortable performing the most basic gesture of love: holding hands in public."

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