There may not be a statistical rise in homophobic violence in Brunswick, but that’s not stopping local activists getting on the front foot with a safety campaign.
Out and Safe was launched by the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby last week. VGLRL acting co-convenor Sarah Rogan said the campaign was about making the suburb a safe place for the queer community.
“When I come out in Brunswick I want to know that it is safe,” she told the gathering. “It’s really important for the community to know that any sort of homophobic harassment or violence really needs to be reported, so we can get some hard evidence and actually get some action on this further.”
Organisers said the campaign stems from anecdotal reports of homophobic incidents around the Sydney Rd area in the last year.
One woman told Southern Star she had been harassed by a group of men yelling homophobic insults.
The campaign will involve stickers in the windows of shops in the business precinct, so victims of homophobic violence or harassment know the business is a safe place to go to and call police.
Information cards will also be distributed with contact details for police and the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard.
“Ideally, one day, we’ll see all the businesses along Sydney Rd with this sticker,” Rogan said.
Moreland Police Inspector Sharon Cowden told the meeting although local police hadn’t recorded a rise in the number of homophobic incidents in the area they were keen to help.
“What we think might be part of the problem is that people might not be feeling comfortable to come to police to report this,” she said.
Cowden said police were in discussion with licensees who have been receptive to displaying the Out and Safe stickers.
“People need to know … if there is any danger, if they’ve got any issues or are subject to violence, they can go to the police,” she said.
“If you don’t report it, we don’t know what’s going on and we can’t do anything about it.”