Macquarie University
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The Gay and Lesbian Immigration Task Force, the Australian border and homosexual people’s mobility in the 1980s and 1990s

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posted on 2024-01-18, 00:40 authored by Annalise Clare Humphris

In 1985, following lobbying by the Gay and Lesbian Immigration Task Force (GLITF), Immigration Minister Chris Hurford partially and covertly recognised same-sex relationships when he agreed to use ministerial discretion to personally assess migration applications from non-citizens in committed relationships with homosexual Australians. In the years that followed, a staggered, and staggering history of lobbying, advances and obstructions to homosexual people’s mobility unfolded through the site of the Australian border as GLITF pursued equality in migration.

The history of GLITF and its work highlights the centrality of sexuality to migration, offering insights into the operation of the heterosexist Australian border as well as the management and nature of homosexual migrants’ mobility. This thesis demonstrates that the border was not merely a solid, static, sovereign line, but a much messier set of practices and policies that were enacted unevenly and inconsistently, subsequently producing differentiated mobility along lines of sexuality, class, health and race.

Each of the chapters in this thesis highlights the ideas, processes and forces that animated the operation of the border and differentiated mobility, simultaneously revealing that the production and management of homosexual migrants’ mobility was not only the purview of state actors, but non-state actors like GLITF, too. As such, GLITF’s role as lobbyists and activists brought them into partnership with the government through the 1980s and 1990s, affording them opportunities to co-govern the border and mobility.

From GLITF lobbying for recognition of homosexual relationships in migration policy and advocating for homosexual inter-country couples in times of distress and discrimination, to GLITF refusing to assist with “marriages of convenience” and the issue of testing migrants for HIV, the Australian border has a rich history of homosexuality to explore, with GLITF an integral part. GLITF was constantly contesting the border and the ideas and practices that constituted it, pushing for equality. Progress, however, was more ambiguous than it was triumphant.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter one: sexuality at the Australian border -- Chapter two: the partnership between GLITF and the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs -- Chapter three: GLITF challenges the family unit -- Chapter four: GLITF manages the bureacuracy of the border -- Chapter five: neoliberalism and “marriages of convenience” -- Chapter six: the politics of HIV and (im)mobility -- Thesis conclusion -- Bibliography -- Appendix 1

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Doctor of Philosophy

Department, Centre or School

Macquarie School of Education

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Leigh Boucher

Additional Supervisor 1

Robert Reynolds


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:






369 pages

Former Identifiers

AMIS ID: 278719