Community Action Against Homophobia has launched a project to defend the beat users.

CAAH spokeswoman Rachel Evans said the activist group had already received several reports of harassment at beats, and was concerned by claims of regular police patrols.

Although public sexual activity is illegal, Evans said beat culture had long been a significant part of our queer history and identity.

Beats are important outlets for men who have sex with men to explore their sexuality in an anonymous way, helping many with the sometimes fraught process of coming out, she said.

NSW Police corporate spokeswoman for GLT issues, Donna Adney, said the guidelines for policing of beats had recently been reviewed and allow for different strategies depending on the local issues.

Generally we find a range of activity can occur at beats including crimes ranging from wilful and obscene exposure, theft from motor vehicles, assault and malicious damage type offences, Adney said.

Local Area Commands use their intelligence and information gained from the community to develop strategies specific to the issues they are addressing at a particular beat in their area.

Environmental design in conjunction with local councils was also used to improve safety in public spaces, she added.

Beat Users need to be mindful of their activities given that beats are most often public spaces accessible by varying members of the public, both young and old.

info: CAAH plans to hold vigils at beats to defend them from police patrols on 15 and 29 November. Email [email protected] for more information.

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