Saturday, January 19, 2008

Oxford St Woes

There have been increasing reports of homophobic bashings and incidents in what was Sydney's golden mile gay district - Oxford St.

This has been extensively discussed in the gay media but is also been picked up by the mainstream media making page one of the Sydney Morning Herald with the headline:

Unhappy days for strip where the city parties
There is currently a lot of frustration with what seems to be no effective response from the Surry Hills police who patrol this area.

Anyone who visits Oxford Street in recent times will notice the decline with the number of restaurants gone and gay venues closed - this really starting happening in 2000 and can be traced back to the financial collapse of Mardi Gras, the Gay Games in 2002 and the collapse of the Satellite Media.

While some gay venues have thrived the number has shrunk and a number of straight nightclubs have opened.

What is clear is if one is out in Surry Hills you should take a taxi home as a number of the incidents have happened within a few blocks of the main area.

What else can be done:

  • Go out with friends and make sure you all get home safely
  • If something doesn't feel right look for an exit, cross the street, etc.
  • Report all incidents no matter how minor to the police
  • Persist and follow up incidents
  • If you go home with someone text a friend to let them know where you are going.
  • Attend the "Reclaim the Right" community vigil in Harmony Park (next to Police Headquarters) in Surry Hills from 4pm 26th Jan.
There is some other worrying trends with some of the responses focused on the race of those who have been captured on video bashing gays. What should violence can come from anyone (though it is generally male) and from any age (though it is often younger men).

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