Gay and lesbian Melburnians travelling to Sydney are being warned to be aware of their safety on Oxford St after a series of alleged assaults reported earlier this month.

The call from the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON) follows a night of violence on the strip on August 9 when four men were allegedly assaulted, including well-known GLBT rights activist Simon Margan.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said people visiting the Oxford St precinct need to be aware of their safety.

“We’re working with the relevant authorities to improve security measures for our community,” he said.

“However, there are also several personal precautions that people can take to minimise the risk of violence.”

ACON said visitors walking the streets at night should stay alert, walk with others, walk in well-lit areas, avoid eye contact with large groups of young men and stay alert for homophobic comments or stares.

Parkhill urged any violence must be reported to police or the NSW Anti-Violence Project.

“Violence of any kind in gay and lesbian neighbourhoods is unacceptable,” he said.

“It is important that GLBT people who experience or witness incidents of violence report it.”

Police have so far ruled out the August 9 alleged attack as homophobically motivated, and are instead blaming the influence of alcohol.

Margan, however, said he told police he recognised the man when putting up GLBTI rights posters a week before the alleged attack occurred and witnessed the man yelling out that he wanted to “eradicate all the gays on Oxford St”.

Police have charged a 34-year-old man in relation to the incident with multiple counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, malicious damage and affray and breaching bail.

Sleaze Ball — the main fundraising party for Mardi Gras — attracts Victorian partygoers and is on October 2.
Margan is the Australian representative of the International Lesbian and Gay Association.

info: If in Sydney, the NSW Anti-Violence Project phone number is (02) 9206 2116 or call 000 for police.

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