Weeks after the Gardiner’s Creek Trail, that winds through the eastern suburbs of Burwood and Ashwood in Melbourne, reopened after major upgrades, local residents were shocked to see that the freshly resurfaced path was vandalised with Nazi swastikas and anti-gay messages last week.
The trail was defaced with swastikas and the words “Kill Gays” etched into the trail path. Following concerns raised by Victoria-based LGBTQI+ Jewish advocacy group Aleph Melbourne, the City of Monash said that they had covered the swastikas with yellow plates. Aleph Melbourne said that the words “Kill Gays” were still visible.
Update: The City of Monash has scrubbed the words and signs from the concrete path.
According to Barnett, the defacemenet of the trail was a “chilling attack” not only on the Jewish and gay community, but also all minority groups.
“It is unfortunate that a small number of people feel so insecure with themselves that they are drawn to destroy public property and peddle fear. Sadly further public money will be required to erase this vandalism, which could have been put to better use,” added Barnett.
This is not the first time that anonymous vandals have targetted public spaces and property with homophobic and anti-Semitic graffiti. In May 2020, Swastikas and homophobic graffiti were sprayed on to the green at the Cranbourne Golf Club in Melbourne. Victoria Police had launched an investigation following the incident.
In February 2021, a man was photographed wearing a swastika armband at the Moorabbin Wholesale Farmer Fresh market.
No Law Against Anti-Gay Hate Crimes
Australian laws are not fit for purpose when it comes to tackling hate crimes. Data from the Crime Statistics Agency had revealed that anti-gay hate crimes had witnessed a spike in Victoria in the last couple of years.
Earlier this year in March, a cross-Parliamentary committee that inquired into the effectiveness of Victoria’s anti-vilification laws, had recommended a ban on the display of Nazi swastikas and other Nazi symbols.
The committee had recommended tougher penalties for such vandalism and had asked the state to strengthen its anti-vilification laws to cover hate crimes against LGBTQI and other communities. Legal experts and activists have called upon the Victorian government to enact the laws and implement the recommendations of the committee.
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