Homophobic vandals defaced a WorldPride mural near Wynyard station in Sydney’s CBD on Wednesday night.
Trigger Warning: This story discusses anti-LGBTQI comments, 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 mural by graffiti artist Scott Marsh, portrayed a man in leather gear, wearing a teddy bear head, holding a beer can and lounging on a Pride flag. It was commissioned by YCK Laneways, which describes itself as “a consortium of independently operated retail, hospitality and entertainment businesses around York, Clarence and Kent Streets.”
On Wednesday, in two separate attacks, vandals splashed paint to cover up the mural. The words “leave the kids alone” were scrawled on the mural.
NSW Police Investigating Vandalism
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The vandalism followed posts on social media by conservatives and some social media influencers targeting the Pride mural.
In a statement to the media, NSW Police said they were investigating the defacement and urged members of the public with information to contact Crime Stopper on 1800 333 000.
According to the police, an unidentified man who was wearing a black hooded jumper, green pants and white sneakers was seen around the mural at the time it was defaced.
Conservative Social Media Users Target Mural
A post by YCK Laneways on their Instagram page with a video of the mural was inundated with hateful messages.
“I opt out of being included with these sick people,” one person said. “This is disgusting. You should be absolutely ashamed of this. There is NOTHING prideful about this,” another comment said. “Shame on you! This picture doesn’t belong on public land for kids to see,” a third posted.
One woman exhorted men to deface the mural. “CALLOUT TO ALL THE MEN!!!!! Go to Wynyard and paint over this filth!!!!” she posted, which is what appears to have been done.
@moeyreacts This is getting too much! #fyp #sydney #fypsydney #westernsydney #australia #aussie #sydneywest ♬ original sound – MoeyReacts
A TikTok user, who goes by the handle MoeyReacts, posted a video of the mural titled “This has to be stopped”. In the video, the user says, “at what point does inclusiveness pass too far,” terming the mural “disgusting.” The video ends with the Tiktoker saying, “If we keep letting them push the boundaries, it keeps getting worse and worse.”
In subsequent videos of the defaced mural, the TikTok user posts, “Wow, the people of Sydney have spoken. Power to the people,” and calls on his followers to “cancel” the artist.
Feels like Saint George all over again 😔
last night was fucked, sorry for reawakening that bad juju during pride. pic.twitter.com/Ym2JqFmCwq
— scott_marsh (@Scottie_marsh) February 22, 2023
For many, the defacement recalled the vandalism of the Saint George mural, depicting the late singer George Michael, in Erskineville, after the 2017 marriage equality vote.
“Feels like Saint George all over again. Last night was fucked, sorry for reawakening that bad juju during pride,” Sydney-based graffiti artist Scott Marsh, who painted the Saint George mural, said on Twitter.
Marsh said that the YCK Laneways mural was initially supposed to depict Russian President Vladimir Putin. “This work was originally supposed to be of Vladimir Putin as a Russian bear, drinking a white Russian. The property owner gave that design a “hard no”. So now it’s Putin in a bear mask,” Marsh said.
“The only people that I’ve really seen complaining about the now vandalised YCK Laneways Pride mural near Wynyard station are straight people that are using the old “What about the children?” argument to voice their anti-queer rhetoric,” said a Twitter user.