A new survey of same-sex attracted and gender diverse Queenslanders has identified the Sunshine State’s worst hotspots for homophobic violence.

Speaking Out: Stopping Homophobic and Transphobic Abuse in Queensland is the largest survey of homophobic violence to be carried out in Australia, and was conducted by Alan Berman of Griffith University and Shirleene Robinson of Bond University.

Now at Newcastle University, Dr Berman told Sydney Star Observer that interviewees rated some of Brisbane’s gayest suburbs among the worst for homophobic incidents.

“Particular hotspots were New Farm, Spring Hill and Fortitude valley, home to most of Brisbane’s GLBTIQ nightclubs,” Berman said.

“That’s consistent with national and international surveys which have shown that gay men tend to be victims of homophobic violence in inner-city suburbs as opposed to suburbs that are not predominantly inhabited by large gay populations.”

Berman said this was partly a result of people being more comfortable being identifiably gay in these areas whereas in other areas they might keep their guard up.

“I think probably some perpetrators are coming from outside of town looking for people to bash.

“But I also think that gay men who live outside of town are probably less open about their sexuality and tend to engage in behaviour modification so as to avoid any potential for abuse.

“A lot of concealment and behaviour modification is based on people’s real life experiences and to avoid victimisation. I don’t think those fears are unfounded and that’s why 77 percent of respondents said they concealed their sexual orientation or gender identity while in public.”

The Sunshine Coast region was rated the worst in the state for homophobia, recording the highest number of incidents per capita.

The report was launched this month at Queensland Parliament, with copies provided to police minister Neil Roberts and Queensland Attorney-General Cameron Dick.

The report contains recommendations for police and lawmakers, including increased penalties for crimes motivated by bias or hatred against a person’s actual or perceived gender or sexual identity; the establishment of a Queensland or federal hate crimes statistic act to track prejudice-motivated crime; ensuring police make victims aware of their rights and refer them to the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission; the active recruitment of GLBT people into the Queensland police force, and providing greater resources for tackling homophobia at all levels of the Queensland education system.

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