The publisher of a newspaper report about the closure of a Sydney beat removed an attached listing of other public places men meet for sex this week after ACON warned the publicity could prompt anti-gay attacks.

The story on The Sydney Morning Herald website on Monday afternoon revealed retailer Myer had closed the level one toilet in its city store to the public after complaints about men using it for sex.

A Myer spokesperson told the Star the company had closed only the toilets on level one of the Sydney store, but was monitoring all toilets in the shop closely.

We are not wanting to keep the facilities closed indefinitely, the spokesperson said.

We will continue to monitor [it] on a week-by-week basis and make a decision.

ACON’s Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project coordinator Carl Harris told Sydney Star Observer the AVP was particularly concerned about an attached list of other beats in and around the city.

The listing was quite extensive and really did increase the risk of violence, Harris said.

The AVP contacted them and the [beat listing] was taken down -¦ at about 5pm [on Monday].

The current article still includes the names of some beats, sourced from a gay cruising website.

Harris said the AVP had not received any reports this week of violence at beats named in The Sydney Morning Herald story.

But past experience showed attacks could rise when a beat received media coverage.

Publicity doesn’t tend to discourage beat users. A lot of the time people think that’s what’s going to happen, but that’s not been our experience, Harris said.

What the AVP data does show is there’s an increased risk of violence after there’s publicity at a beat.

Harris said reports to the AVP suggested violence at beats was stable, but police activity at the gay meeting places appeared to be increasing.

In August police and health authorities announced they would visit two beats on Sydney’s northern beaches as part of a new education and safety campaign, following a series of offensive conduct charges.

Harris said beats attracted men who did not feel comfortable accessing the gay community in other ways, and they were likely to remain a part of gay culture.

As long as homophobia exists, there are going to be people still using beats, he said.

If people weren’t put in situations where they had to choose between their attraction and what’s socially acceptable, you could see less use of beats.

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