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On 24 November 1992, Australia overturned its longstanding ban on gay and lesbian service in the Australian Defence Force. The ban was on the political agenda throughout 1992, though it was never a government priority or subject to mass protest. The debates over gay and lesbian military service have subsequently received scant attention from historians. The arguments against gay and lesbian service centred on troop morale, security concerns, fears of predatory homosexuals and the spread of HIV/AIDS. The arguments to permit gay and lesbian service hinged to an extent on principles of non-discrimination, but even more so on international law. This article examines the debates in 1992 leading up to the repeal of the ban, focusing in particular on the Labor Party divisions and the ways international law influenced the decision-making process.

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This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Riseman, N. (2015), Outmanoeuvring Defence: The Australian Debates over Gay and Lesbian Military Service, 1992. Australian Journal of Politics & History, 61: 562–575. doi:10.1111/ajph.12119, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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