Almost a year ago the streets of Darlinghurst were full of sports fans in their national colours, for the international gay and lesbian love-in of the Gay Games.
From next week the Golden Mile might look strangely similar, when the Rugby World Cup moves into town.
Five World Cup matches will be played at Moore Park’s Aussie Stadium, and although the Rugby World Cup is expected to attract a fairly highbrow crowd -“ think Prince Harry rather than Russell Crowe -“ there are some concerns it could all turn a bit nasty.
Bligh MP Clover Moore has written to Surry Hills Local Area Command on behalf of residents and the gay and lesbian community highlighting her concerns about possible anti-gay violence and drunken street crimes.
The Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project has also issued a warning about the World Cup.
At this stage our advice to the community is to be aware that during the six weeks of the World Cup there will be a lot of people on Oxford St who wouldn’t normally be there, AVP spokesperson Dean Johnston said.
The AVP has advised the gay and lesbian community to catch taxis instead of walking, project confidence, and avoid groups of young men who look out of place, particularly if they appear drunk.
Surry Hills police are not concerned. Crime coordinator Tom Sumsky told the Star the police were prepared for any kind of World Cup-related problems.
The World Cup is going to be policed like you wouldn’t believe, he said.
Sumsky said there would be more police at the stadium, outside the stadium, in the pedestrian corridors between Central train station, Aussie Stadium and Oxford Street and more police at licensed premises likely to attract rugby fans.
There’s always flow-on effects from major sports events to licensed premises but that has been considered. It’s a complete regional response, which includes Surry Hills, and we’re not anticipating any problems.