Weeks after Victoria Police arrested six teenagers for a series of gay-bashing attacks in the parklands in Ashwood, the Monash City council on Tuesday passed a motion condemning homophobia.

Trigger Warning: This story has details of homophobia and homophobic slurs, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

The councillors unanimously passed a motion in a council meeting on February 22 to fly the Pride flag across the municipality till March 7, in solidarity with the LGBTQI community. 

Advertisement
“It was important to let the LGBTQI community know that the vast majority of the community and indeed various levels of government, stand in solidarity with them,” said councillor Dr Josh Fergeus, who had introduced the motion in the council. 

“One of the worst things about these sorts of incidents is the isolation and vulnerability that people feel. Everyone needs to feel secure and needs to feel that they belong. Statements like this, sometimes can go a small way to doing that for some people,” said Cr Fergeus. 

The councillor said he was surprised that the motion passed unanimously as councils in the past have been divided over issues relating to the LGBTQI community. 

Six Teenagers Arrested For Gay-Bashing Attacks

Earlier this month the Victoria police arrested six boys aged between 14 and 19 for allegedly carrying out homophobic attacks on gay men. The teenaged boys would pose as adults on dating apps to lure gay men to parklands in Ashwood, a suburb around 14 kilometres from Melbourne CBD, and then assault them.

Last year, the Gardiner’s Creek Trail that winds through the eastern suburbs of Burwood and Ashwood was defaced with swastikas and the words “Kill Gays” etched into the trail path.

These incidents are not limited to the Monash community, the councillor said. “Unfortunately there is still a degree of homophobia which is present right across Melbourne and Victoria. Thankfully, it is reducing and it is becoming more and more unacceptable for the vast majority of the community and people are really willing to stand up and say so.”

Advertisement
According to Cr Fergeus, the recent public debates over Scott Morrison’s Religious Discrimination Bill “certainly doesn’t help.

“It can legitimise these views in the minds of some people when they start hearing from Federal politicians and cabinet ministers that discriminating in these ways is acceptable. It does embolden people.”

An Inclusive Council

On its part, the Monash City Council is working to make its services inclusive for the LGBTQI community.  Around 4.7% of Monash residents identify as LGBTQI, according to the Victorian Population Health Survey.

“The council has opened consultation for an LGBTQIA+ action plan and it has formed an advisory committee that has been functioning for the last 12 months. This will really advise our work over the next five to ten years,” said the councillor. The council has Pride nights at its recreation centres and has increased the LGBTQI content in its libraries, Cr Fergeus said. 

“The message  I want the LGBTQI members of the community, but also the broader community to hear is that Monash is an inclusive community. We welcome everyone regardless of their sexuality and that sort of behaviour absolutely will not be tolerated. As a council and as a community, we will absolutely support Victoria Police in their efforts to ensure that people are safe and that these sort of things don’t happen.”

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Star Observer 2022 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.