Sydney’s first Centre for LGBTQIA+ History and Culture has officially opened at the former site of the Old Darlinghurst Police Station. 

This opening of the centre creates a new heart for LGBTQIA+ history, art and culture in the Oxford Street Precinct.

The heritage-listed site, previously associated with the jailing of Sydney’s LGBTQIA+ community including some 78ers, has been remediated to host exhibitions, educational programs and evening performances that explore, celebrate and educate people on LGBTQIA+ history and culture.

In a key election promise delivered, the New South Wales Government handed over the site and committed $6.7 million towards supporting the establishment of Qtopia Sydney at the former police station.

Qtopia, a not-for-profit organisation committed to the empowerment and inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community will be responsible for the operation of the facility, supported by a governing board and an expert advisory panel.

The idea to create this centre came from Professor David Cooper, who treated David Polson, a founder of Qtopia and one of the first 400 people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in Australia and one of only 32 still alive.

Launching in Sydney in time for Mardi Gras 2024, the exhibits will feature historical and archival objects, imagery, video and audio, to tell some of the stories of this significant period within Australia’s history.

New South Wales Premier, Chris Minns, said that this new centre turns the page on the history of the Old Darlinghurst Police Station and writes a new chapter that celebrates and recognises the proud LGBTQIA+ history and culture of the state.

“We couldn’t be prouder to support the establishment of Qtopia Sydney as a testament to the inclusivity and diversity that have come to define our vibrant city and state,” Premier Minns said. 

“Qtopia will stand as more than just a testament to any one particular person or government, this centre will stand as a marker for us all as to how far we’ve come in addressing inequality in New South Wales.

New South Wales Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council, Penny Sharpe, said, “Qtopia turns the history of discrimination, violence and shame, to one of celebration, visibility and resilience of our diverse queer community.” 

New South Wales Minister for the Arts, John Graham, said Qtopia’s new and permanent home in the former Darlinghurst Police Station is a significant space for Sydney LGBTQIA+ community. 

“It will be an important place for education, engagement, and artistic expression,” Minister Graham said. 

“This heritage-listed building holds a lot of history for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. It will provide a place for exploring ideas and foster a deeper understanding of history and current events. I am pleased to see it’s reimagining as a much-needed cultural space in the centre of Sydney.”

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