It’s a sad fact that incidents of street-based homophobic or transphobic violence tend to increase when lots of us are out and about at Mardi Gras.

Keeping our community safe is very important to us. We recommend people travel to and from venues with friends, travel in taxis if alone and cover up party clothes or get changed at venues to avoid being targets.

We also recommend getting away from a situation as fast and as safely as possible since responding may result in a situation escalating.

Here are some reports we received from community members during Mardi Gras last year:

“I was walking to my hotel in drag down side streets after the parade. Men shouted things like ‘freak’ and were intimidating me. Some were agro and I felt really scared. I ignored them, kept walking and headed for an open business.”

“I was walking home alone and a group of men muttered ‘fucking lesbian’. I kept walking, looked straight ahead and walked towards a group of women.”

You can report violence and harassment to police for immediate action or to ACON’s Anti-Violence Project (AVP). Recording these incidents gets them on the public record and provides us with evidence to lobby for improved community security, develop safety strategies and run anti-homophobia or education initiatives.

The AVP also provides support, information and referral to legal, counselling and victim support services.

Contact us on 02 9206 2116. To make a report and get tips on safety see our website www.acon.org.au/ant-violence

Look out for our Speak Up reporting violence poster campaign over the weekend. You can report violence via the Police Assistance Line 131 444. By asking that an incident be recorded as ‘sexual preference prejudice’, police can track homophobic incidents better. Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers may also be available. Call the Police Switchboard on 02 9281 0000 or the AVP for a GLLO near you.

BY Robert Knapman, Anti-Violence Project coordinator.

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