12 May, 2022

Honouring the life of Dr George Duncan

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The City of Adelaide has reopened Adelaide’s Rainbow Walk today to mark the 50th Anniversary of the death of Dr George Duncan.

Dr Duncan‘s death by drowning in the River Torrens on this day in 1972 precipitated momentous change to the law in South Australia in 1975 – making it the first state in Australia to decriminalise homosexual relations between consenting adults.

The Rainbow Walk project in Light Square was endorsed and constructed by the City of Adelaide in 2016 to recognise the city's LGBTIQ history, with Dr Duncan’s tragic death recognised in its timeline.

The Rainbow Walk’s timeline highlights significant milestones, people and events in our state’s history. The timeline is included within the unique colour bands, providing meaning and further connection with the LGBTIQ community.

Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor said that the City of Adelaide is proud to be an inclusive city and that the Rainbow Walk was constructed to be a place of celebration but also of quiet reflection for days like today where we remember Dr George Duncan.

“What happened to Dr Duncan and the reaction to that fateful event, left a legacy that changed our state and the nation forever,” said the Lord Mayor.

“Today we mark the tragic anniversary of Dr Duncan’s death with our city’s LGBTIQ community and remember the devastating event that saw South Australia lead the way on gay law reform. Our Rainbow Walk at Light Square demonstrates Council’s ongoing commitment to inclusiveness and diversity.”

Councillor Keiran Snape, who moved a motion at the March Council Meeting to have the Rainbow Walk upgraded in time for the anniversary, said today was a special day for his community.

“After the unfortunate vandalism of the Rainbow Walk back in October, I'm proud that Council unanimously came together and supported the beautification of our community Rainbow Walk,” said Councillor Snape.

“This was done in time for the 50th anniversary of the tragic death of Dr George Duncan on May 10th, which is also the first date on the Rainbow Walk.”

Member of the Legislative Council and former City of Adelaide Councillor Robert Simms was integral in the Rainbow Walk’s launch in 2016 and said it remains an important place to visit in the city.

“It’s terrific to see the Rainbow Walk become an enduring icon in our city. It recognises the work that has been done to advance the rights of LGBTIQ people. The anniversary of Dr George Duncan’s tragic death is a reminder of how far we’ve come but also the terrible harm caused by homophobia,” said Mr Simms.

For more information

Jack Berketa