A pattern of anti-gay violence on Oxford Street in recent months has prompted ACON and the City of Sydney to launch a campaign aimed at making the strip safer.

The two organisations will create a taskforce with local police, retailers and social venues in a bid to curb homophobic attacks. They will also host a community forum in late March to discuss anti-violence strategies.

The new safety plan comes a month after Sydney Star Observer‘s Maxi Shield used her column to call for action against anti-gay attacks on Oxford Street.

ACON president Adrian Lovney said his organisation’s Anti-Violence Project had received six reports of homophobic abuse on the strip since November.

While not a dramatic increase on previous figures, the statistic was still a cause for concern.

It’s not significantly higher, but it’s still six too many, Lovney told the Star.

There’s been a range of factors that has caused that. Some of them may be verbal, but some of them are certainly physical as well.

There was some suggestion the recent Oxford Street upgrade had exacerbated the issue, Lovney said.

The anecdotal evidence is that the work around the street rejuvenation hasn’t helped in that the barricades have potentially created a kind of funnel effect that reduces escape paths for people.

With the street renovations virtually complete, ACON and other taskforce members will shift their focus to encouraging better policing and working with local retailers and venue owners.

Lovney expressed concern the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer (GLLO) position at Surry Hills police station had been vacant for several months.

Surry Hills police told the Star a GLLO position no longer existed at the station, although a Mardi Gras liaison officer was on duty until the end of next week.

Darlinghurst Business Partnership chairperson Phil Wharton told the Star local retailers had also identified homophobic violence as a recurring problem.

It’s our belief that anyone should be able to walk up the street looking like whatever they want to look like without any harassment, he said.

ACON is urging victims or witnesses of homophobic violence to report it to the Anti-Violence Project on 9206 2116 or 1800 063 060.

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