The 2am lockout of four gay venues will likely increase alcohol-related assaults against gay and lesbian people and could harm successes in keeping HIV rates low in NSW, ACON has warned.
ACON president Mark Orr argued including gay venues in the lockout was akin to blaming the victim, when most violence in and around Oxford St is perpetrated by people tanked up with their mates from somewhere else.
For some reason the alcohol seems to give them permission to act out their homophobic feelings, and it is not uncommon for someone to talk up a stranger (a gay man) in a queue outside a nightclub and punch him in the face, Orr wrote to Nathan Rees.
When this occurs, the violence statistics are counted against that licensed venue which gives an inaccurate picture about which are in fact problem venues.
Reports from NSW Police and the Attorney General’s Department going back over a decade have showed a systemic problem of violence against patrons of gay venues, he said, but there were few places for a gay man or lesbian to meet people like themselves.
With one stroke of a pen, Premier, you have created a 2am lockout in almost half the GLBT community licensed venues in central Sydney.
Having limited venues that are accessible to our community after 2am will leave many people on the street with the very real possibility that they will be more susceptible to violence than is currently the case, rather than less so, which was the intent of this reform.
Gay and lesbian venues played in promoting HIV and STI prevention and drug and alcohol education campaigns, Orr added. Venue operators had been working with ACON and the ongoing work to address problems in the Oxford St and Darlinghurst area.
It is disappointing that this work, including a voluntary agreement from all venue operators in the area to a trial lockout between 6am and 9am, has been undercut by the measures imposed by the Government.