Gay pubs and nightclubs in Darlinghurst have seen a sharp drop-off in the number of bashings and other violent incidents over the last five years, according to new statistics released by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR).
According to OLGR statistics the Exchange Hotel is Oxford St’s most violent venue, with 79 assaults recorded since July 2008, closely followed by the Colombian Hotel with 70 over the same period. However, even these venues have seen a drop in the number of violent incidents taking place from several years ago – both clubs were dropped from the state government’s watchlist of violent venues over the last few years.
No gay-centric Darlinghurst venues have been on the watchlist since the end of 2011, suggesting that other Oxford St clubs with a history of violence like the Stonewall Hotel and ARQ Nightclub have also seen a steep drop in assaults in recent years.
However, Inner City Legal Centre (ICLC) Director Dan Stubbs questioned the accuracy of the OGLR statistics when applied to the Darlinghurst gay scene, pointing out that they only list assaults that are reported to police and do not include assaults that may happen after patrons leave a venue and move down the street.
“We only have anecdotal evidence, but we’re still seeing people come to us with complaints of homophobic violence in places where it often doesn’t get reported,” Stubbs said.
Stubbs also drew attention to the growing problem of friction between gay patrons and private security guards that are increasingly prevalent in gay Darlinghurst establishments.
The trend is part of a broader decline in pub and club violence over the last five years. The Ivy on George St recorded 24 assaults in a 12-month period from July last year, making it NSW’s most violent pub and the only one to attract the harsh restrictions extended to Level One venues.
In the 12 months from July 2007 to June 2008, however, 21 venues recorded at least 24 assaults – in some cases far more. The most violent venue in 2007-08, the Mean Fiddler Hotel in Rouse Hill, recorded 73 assaults over a similar time frame.