A NUMBER of gay men have allegedly been subjected to homophobic abuse and threats of violence in Footscray Park near Melbourne, according to recent reports.
Last week a handful of posts were added to the popular gay cruising site Squirt – which is used to connect with other gay men in public areas – detailing a number of incidents of homophobia in the park.
“A guy approached me and I said let’s go for a walk, so we went up to a private area,” the post read.
“He then said let’s go down here and he was luring me to his mates, so I started to feel uncomfortable.
“The next moment he was whistling and I saw the other guys, about nine of them, running along the top towards the steps.”
The member said he then ran to his car and jumped in, before one of the nine men grabbed the passenger door handle.
“I hadn’t locked the door yet, so he opened the door and started abusing me – calling me a faggot and saying he was going to kill us all,” he wrote.
“I just put my foot down and reached over, closing the door.”
Another member posted on Squirt about his own experience in the same park.
“Was pretty scary earlier,” he wrote.
“Lots of yelling and people running. Very aggressive voices.
“I was near the pond and could just hear one guy saying ‘I’m going to hunt you down and kill you.’”
While the incident wasn’t formally reported by the man to the police, Local Area Commander Inspector Adrian Healy said the police were aware of concerns in the community regarding safety at Footscray Park.
“I want to reiterate our commitment to the safety of the community,” he said.
“On the whole Footscray is inclusive and secure and police patrols in the area will be focused on the safety of park users to ensure this.
“I encourage anyone who witnesses, or is subject to threats, discrimination, or victimisation on the basis of sexuality or gender identity to inform police immediately – we are here to help.”
The Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) informed the police of these attacks, and is committed to working with them to make Footscray Park a safe place for members of the gay community.
Chief Executive of VAC, Simon Ruth, encouraged men to report crime to the police.
“If you are the victim of violence, or observe it happening, it is critical that you report it to police,” he said.
“This helps raise awareness of homophobic violence, and helps the police in their efforts to prevent it.”
If you’ve experienced assault or feel unsafe you can contact an LGBTI Liaison Officer (GLLO) for support in reporting a crime. Head to www.police.vic.gov.au for a list of current GLLO contacts and contact details.