POLICE AT SLEAZE
The Harbour City Bears committee wholeheartedly agrees with the stance taken by New Mardi Gras regarding the police presence at Sleaze Ball.
Many of our members are now reluctant to attend high-profile events in Sydney because of the over-the-top policing at events in the last year.
Our members tell us they are being searched for no apparent reason, often in full view of other members of the public and in a manner that can only be described as intimidatory.
This approach is not one adopted by police elsewhere when policing similar community events or celebrations and is one that should be challenged by us all to defend our rights in NSW.
— HCB Committee

CALLING LAWYERS

Illegal searches, aggression, sniffer dogs and rudness — our community deserves better from NSW Police at Sleaze Ball and similar events.
We at Sydney Copwatch are used to hearing such complaints and would welcome the opportunity to help other lawyers, law students and volunteers to set up and run legal tents at events where people can have some protection from police harassment.
Sniffer dogs have been authorised by state laws. But the police focus on gay events is victimisation. Special pleading from the police of ‘intelligence-led’ policing ring hollow. I have never seen or read about sniffer dogs at the Sydney Opera House or bars near Martin Place sniffed on a Friday night where there is a tsunami of cocaine and other drugs. All the focus seems to be on gay events.
I call on lawyers to contact us as a first step to getting a legal tent together for future events in cooperation with the organisers and other interested people.
— Dale Mills, solicitor and barrister, www.sydneycopwatch.org

ANGRY
It is with sadness I read about the Manacle Bar at The Clarence Hotel closing.
It is also with disappointment at the fetish and leather community of Sydney and even greater is my anger towards the Sydney Leather Pride Association.
To SLPA: where was your support of Manacle? It was rare to see any committee members at Manacle or find you holding events there.
For those starting in the fetish and leather you as a community group are supposed to be there as a beacon of support. But the committee has become not much more than a group that organises a couple of dance events and none at the one venue in Sydney designed for us.
SLPA used to hold regular meetings for members. There has not been one of these since (from memory) Feburary.
Since I joined SLPA last year I have supported the group any way I can, however I feel the same support for me as a new member of the fetish community has not been returned.
To Stuart and Andrew — thank you for your efforts to open and run the venue. Be assured of my continued support as a patron of the Clarence Hotel. Also thanks to the great staff at the Clarence, who have become my leather family by default.
— Paul

Memorial plaque

In the ’90s, my friends and I visited Sydney regularly. We loved its small but lively gay bar, club and party scene. So much so that it was a significant contributing factor to my settling here as a foreigner.
Those same friends don’t visit here any longer. They feel ‘the scene’ is just about non-existent and that which remains is dull and boring. They say the place is hardly recognisable — that it’s more like a ‘police state’ than a gay one.
Understandably things change, but for a gay scene to have been almost obliterated is puzzling.
The same factors will have accounted for change elsewhere in the world but other cities seem to have managed to preserve this section of their culture. Why not here? In Sydney, venues are crashing around us. Recently, The Shift Club, Flinders and now Manacle.Nothing new replaces these closures.
Is the sentiment expressed recently by Manacle owners — that venues like theirs are no longer required — accurate? Or is gay business simply not in touch with the needs of a changing market?
Could gay people in Sydney have simply become so complacent or indifferent that in the process they have missed noticing that mainstream politics and culture are pushing them into oblivion?
With fewer visits by foreigners too, how long will it take before all we are left with is a memorial plaque to remind us we were once here?
— Marcus

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