Angels may patrol gay ghettos
A Sydney-based gay and lesbian website is putting together a security team to patrol gay and lesbian events and areas.
GenerationQ founder Andrew Stopps, who was the victim of a violent attack in Erskineville about four years ago, said the GenQ Street Angels were a direct response to a Sydney Star Observer campaign to reclaim gay-friendly areas.
“We are looking for volunteers who are in the armed forces, police, security or have medical training to join the Street Angels.” Stopps said.
“Training will be provided to make sure the Street Angels have boundaries and guidelines and that’s where we will work with the police to make sure they are there to support.”
Stopps said a recent increase in violence along Oxford St could not be ignored.
“It is clear that we as a community need to help the police with this problem,” he said.
“We are not looking for vigilantes, but for trained people to help keep people safe when they are on the strip. We are hoping that just by being visible at events and on the street, the Street Angels’ presence will make people think twice before attacking or acting in a threatening way.”
Stopps said GenerationQ had already flagged the idea with youth group Twenty10, Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Surry Hills Police and the ACON Anti-Violence Project.
“We want to work with these authorities as a further support to them and not instead of them,” he said.
A NSW Police spokeswoman said it did not endorse the formation of vigilante groups and that victims of homophobic violence should report it immediately.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the move was indicative of the growing safety concerns among the gay and lesbian community. She said similar, short-lived groups set up in the past had emerged at a time of high levels of homophobic violence and harassment.
“While I understand the community frustration motivating this latest proposal, I would be seriously concerned if it resulted in community members attempting to do the job of the police or taking the law into their own hands,” she said.
“Volunteers may be able to play a worthwhile role in helping to make our streets safer, but any volunteer program should be developed in conjunction with the police, the Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project and the City of Sydney’s Safe City Team.”
To volunteer as a GenQ Street Angel, visit www.generationq.net.
Have your say: Is this the solution to Oxford Street’s violence problems? Visit www.ssonet.com.au.