Victoria’s Anti-Violence Project has called on community members to be aware of their safety following a report of a homophobic harassment in St Kilda.

A man and his friend were verbally harassed using homophobic language by groups of people as they walked along the St Kilda foreshore.

AVP convenor Greg Adkins told the Star Observer the men did the right thing by walking away from the groups and not engaging in a slanging match.

“The men did the right thing and didn’t respond,” he said.

“It’s not safe often for people to intervene directly, because verbal harassment can often escalate to violence.
“So the safe thing is … to get away for the person doing the harassing and call police.”

Adkins said anecdotal evidence suggested a rise in reports of prejudice-motivated harassment over the summer months, particularly perpetrated by people from outer suburban areas.

“We keep anecdotes, we keep reports of violence and there’s always been, since the life of AVP, an increase in reporting that takes place from the end of October, sometimes November , into December and then it continues on with increased reporting through to the end of January or the start of February,” Adkins said.

“What we do know is that there are more people coming from suburbs … and many of these people [haven’t] experienced meeting a gay person, or meeting a transgender person.

“When they come into the inner urban areas where people are much more free to display their sexual or gender diversity … that’s when people start to wake up that there are gays or lesbians and transgender people among them.”

Research shows only about 30 percent of homophobic crime in Victoria is reported.

Adkins said it was critical people report to police or the AVP if they are the victim of homophobic harassment.

“It’s almost like collateral damage, if we’re going to be gay or lesbian that’s what we can expect, that it comes with the package,” he said.

“We say homophobic harassment, and indeed violence, does not come with the package, it’s not all inclusive with being same-sex attracted or being gender diverse.

“Violence is not normal, harassment is not normal, and not accepted and that’s why every time we hear someone being harassed, whether it’s us or someone around us, we need to take a stand.”

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