Police, emergency services and ACON’s Anti-Violence Project are bracing themselves for the annual seasonal surge in homophobic violence.

Research from the University of Sydney shows that while people who watch the parade are supportive of the GLBT community, some spectators use it event to reinforce their negative attitudes towards homosexuals.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said while ACON is working with NSW Police, the NSW Attorney General’s Department and the City of Sydney to address the issue, it remains a serious problem.

“Data gathered by the NSW Government shows gay men and lesbians are, respectively, four and six times more likely than the general population to experience prejudice-related abuse, harassment or assault,” he said.

“During Mardi Gras, a time of celebration for our community, the amount of gay hate crime increases further with most incidents occurring in Darlinghurst, Surry Hills, Kings Cross and Newtown.

“Street-based homophobic violence is usually perpetrated by groups of young men, often travelling in groups of two or more, so it’s best to avoid these types of groups if possible by crossing the road or walking around them.

“We recommend partygoers travel to and from venues with friends or travel in taxis if they’re alone and that they cover up their party clothes or get changed at the venue to avoid being a target. We also advise that they stick with their mates, especially if their mates are drunk or out of it, because alcohol and other drugs can reduce awareness.

“Finally, all violence and harassment should be reported to police for immediate action or to ACON’s Anti-Violence Project.”

info: In an emergency, call 000. For non-urgent enquiries, call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or visit your local police station. Report violence to the AVP at www.acon.org.au or call 9206 2116 or 1800 063 060.

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