Anti-LGBTI attacks appear to be on the rise around Australia as the marriage equality debate continues, with reports of vandalism and assault increasing.
A Sydney train carriage was defaced with slogans including “vote no to fags” and “faggots not welcome”, along with swastikas, News.com.au has reported.
Another Brisbane house decorated with rainbow flags and ‘vote yes’ materials was allegedly attacked on Sunday night by a man yelling homophobic abuse and hurling rocks.
Resident Olivia Hill said she was home alone when the man smashed windows of her house with rocks while screaming homophobic slurs.
“I was so scared, I thought, ‘This is it, this is how I die, at the hand of a homophobe’,” said Hill.
“I thought he was going to barge into our house and kill me.”
Dr Dvir Abramovich of the Anti-Defamation Commission condemned the homophobic attacks and use of the swastika symbol.
“The proliferation of the Nazi swastika in anti-gay activity and the same-sex marriage debate is a grave cause for concern,” he said.
“The same-sex marriage conversation in Australia has allowed this type of reactionary prejudice, based on fear and demonisation, to explode and take centre stage.
“For 70 years, the swastika has served as the ultimate and most notorious symbol of Hitler’s regime, responsible for the widespread persecution of homosexuals and the murder of about 15,000 in concentration camps. Its use is an effective propagandistic way for bigots to identify with the Third Reich, create a sense of intimidation in the community, draw attention to their dangerous agenda and recruit young people.”
Stickers bearing the swastika symbol and the name Antipodean Resistance—an Australian Neo-Nazi group—have appeared in cities including Hobart and Brisbane.
A sign at the University of Tasmania was defaced with Antipodean Resistance stickers and a poster encouraging gay and trans people to kill themselves.
Dr Abramovich said that Neo-Nazis have been “emboldened” by the current political climate against LGBTI people.
“We are shocked that such revolting [materials] have invaded university space, vilifying and threatening the LGBTI community, and sowing a message of prejudice and intolerance in the hearts of young people,” he said.
“State and federal governments have a key role to play in effectively countering and calling out this frightening escalation of explicit bigotry and protecting all students from this poisonous rhetoric.”