20130531_103714Businesses and workplaces that provide safe spaces for LGBTI people will be able to advertise their good intentions with the launch of a new campaign seeking cut down homophobic violence and harassment.

A collaboration between ACON’s Anti-Violence Project (AVP) and the South-eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD), the ‘Safe Place’ program will encourage businesses such as shops, cafes, pubs and community and government centres to display a special rainbow sticker in a prominent location to advertise their commitment to creating a safe space for LGBTI people.

The brightly-coloured rainbow sticker will replace the iconic pink triangle, which was historically hung in shopfront windows to advertise as a place of refuge for LGBTI people.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said that while society had come a long way in accepting LGBTI people over the last 20 years, “harassment, bullying, intimidations, verbal abuse and, sadly, instances of physical attack” were still prevalent today.

“The links between the experiences of prejudice and violence trigger a number of health problems that affect our communities, including mental health, sexual health and alcohol and drug abuse. That’s why the revamped Safe Places program is so badly needed,” Parkhill said.

SESLHD Chief Executive Terry Clout said that he was “proud” to be supporting the initiative.

“Violence and prejudice are never acceptable and they never solved anything. The way gay and lesbian people live now is far different to how it was in the 1980s and 90s – for those of us who remember, it was very clear that being gay was repulsive and to be rejected,” Clout said.

He also highlighted the large number of businesses from areas such as western Sydney, the Central Coast and the state’s far west that had already signed up to the program.

“In rural communities homophobia is not spoken about or named – it is hidden but it is very real. Each and every one of those people in rural areas have the same rights as those in the inner-metropolitan areas, and at the moment they’re not getting them.”

Stickers can be ordered from the AVP website.

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