Two men were attacked by a gang of up to 10 youths on busy Oxford Street on the weekend in a savage act of homophobic violence.
One of the victims was co-chair of communications for New Mardi Gras, Scott Gillespie.
The unprovoked attack occurred just after 2am on Saturday in front of dozens of passers-by opposite the intersection of Oxford and Palmer Streets. The attackers yelled poofters and faggots during the assault.
Gillespie and his friend Dave, who is heterosexual and does not wish to have his surname published, were both punched repeatedly in the head.
Dave had two of his front teeth knocked out. Gillespie sustained only minor scratches and bruises.
Gillespie said he was surprised no one tried to help or call police during the attack, which lasted for around five minutes. At least two dozen people walked past, he said.
He also claimed that following the incident a security guard at a gay hotel refused to assist them and that there was no gay and lesbian liaison officer available at the police station.
Gillespie told Sydney Star Observer he and his friend had been out for a few drinks on Oxford Street last Friday night before having a meal at a fast-food restaurant around 2am Saturday . While eating he noticed a group of youths aged around 18 or 19 standing outside.
The two men left the restaurant and went their separate ways, until Gillespie noticed the group of around 10 youths had followed Dave and started to attack him.
They pushed him and hit him over the head a few times, Gillespie said. I got in between them and pulled him away. Then they started calling us -˜poofters’ and -˜faggots’.
The group then turned on Gillespie, punching him around five times in the face.
When the gang moved away Gillespie called 000 on his mobile phone and asked for police to be sent. The pair waited for the police on the street for 10 minutes before giving up and moving on. An ambulance arrived some time after they left the area.
The men then approached a security guard at the door of the Colombian Hotel to see if he could contact the police for them.
However, Gillespie claimed, the guard at the door said it wasn’t his problem and that there was nothing he could do, even after I showed him Dave’s teeth.
They did not attempt to enter the venue and decided to walk to Surry Hills Police Station.
Stephen Quinlan, the Colombian’s licensee, said he was shocked by the allegation.
Anybody turning up at the front door of the Colombian who’s been assaulted should automatically be given a safe haven but also the option to call the police or ambulance, Quinlan said, adding there had been numerous occasions when staff had contacted emergency services for people in need.
Quinlan said management had spoken to the security guard in question and that the man denied Gillespie’s allegations. If this did occur that security person won’t be working for us any more, nor will the security company, he said.
When the two men arrived at Surry Hills Police, Gillespie asked to speak to a gay and lesbian liaison officer (GLLO) but was told there was none on duty.
Detective Inspector David Egan-Lee of Surry Hills Police told the Star: Yes, it is unfortunate that on that night there may not have been a GLLO rostered. He said it may have been because one of the five GLLOs was on holiday.
However, he said there was a much greater chance of getting a GLLO with five of them than if there was only one full-time GLLO, something community groups have lobbied for.
He said the number of reported assaults in the area had dropped in the last few months, from 62 in July to 53 in August. He hoped to be deploying police on Operation Gilligan again this year, where police patrol Taylor Square every Friday and Saturday night over summer.
Carl Harris, coordinator of the Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project, said there should always be a GLLO on duty, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. He urged the community to be vigilant.
If you see an incident of violence on Oxford Street I think we have a responsibility to take care of one another and call the police or an ambulance, Harris said.
Homophobic behaviour around Oxford Street in the last 12 months sparked a community safety campaign and a promise from council to install CCTV cameras on the strip.