On June 14th, 2004, a micronation called The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands was founded as a symbolic political protest by a group of gay rights activists as a response to the Australian government’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages.
The idea for the founding of a gay kingdom was taken during the Brisbane Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival in 2003.
Gay activists believed that change in the marriage law, in particular the government’s plan to amend the marriage act so as to prevent homosexual couples who were married overseas to have their relationship recognised, had taken from homosexual people the right to be treated equally, “whether it be marriage, superannuation, hospital visits, adoption or IVF treatments”.
Based on the law of “Unjust Enrichment” (“If something is unjustly taken compensation must be made.”) and with reference to international law, which states “Oppressed people of overseas territories have a right to self government and self determination”, the activists claimed “territorial compensation” by establishing an independent gay state, claiming The Coral Sea Islands as its territory.
So after sailing on a ship called “The Gayflower” to a group of small, uninhabited tropical islands in the Coral Sea northeast of Queensland, activists declared Cato Island an independent gay and lesbian state. The newly proclaimed Emperor Dale raised the gay rainbow flag and claimed the island in his name as homeland for the gay and lesbian peoples of the world.
The new nation’s declaration began,
“Homosexual people have honestly endeavoured everywhere to merge ourselves in the social life of surrounding communities and to be treated equally. We are not permitted to do so. In vain we are loyal patriots, our loyalty in some places running to extremes; in vain do we make the same sacrifices of life and property as our fellow citizens; in vain do we strive to increase the fame of our native land in science and art, or her wealth by trade and commerce. In countries where we have lived for centuries, we are still cried down as strangers…. In the world as it is now and for an indefinite period…. I think we shall not be left in peace.”[
The activists founded a camp site on Cato Island which they named “Heaven” after the famous gay nightclub in London as the claimed capital, and “I Am What I Am” was set as the Kingdom’s national anthem.
The kingdom issued its first stamps in July 2006 “with the aim of creating a high and distinctive reputation amongst the philatelic fraternity”. The kingdom’s website stated that tourism, fishing and philatelic sales were its only economic activities. However, swimming, reef walking, lagoon snorkelling, bird-watching, seashell-collecting, and shipwreck-exploring were all gay government-sanctioned non-economic activities.
After Australia’s decision to legalise same sex marriage, though, Emperor Dale declared the kingdom dissolved on November 17th, 2017.
(via Back2Stonewall; Photo: Pixabay)