Sydney’s gay and lesbian community is under attack and Oxford St and its precincts are proving, once again, to be the battleground.
The bashing of Craig Gee and Shane Brennen has jolted us back into a time we all thought was long past.
That, combined with the closure of some of our favourite nightspots, a seemingly lacklustre police response to our plight and years under governments -“ both State and Federal -“ that have failed to progress our basic human rights, are forcing our community into a corner it is going to have to fight to get out of.
You only have to walk up Oxford St late one Friday or Saturday night to feel the tension brewing. And logic suggests it is only a matter of time until the pressure becomes too much and the community, once again, explodes and takes to the streets.
Token gestures from the powers that be -“ no matter how well intentioned -“ will not be enough to stop the battle.
There seems only one solution -“ get more police on our streets.
Oxford St attracts around 10,000 revellers a night. No matter how you break that number down, it is a bloody lot of people.
Throw in a decent swig of alcohol, a few party drugs and a handful of people intent on causing trouble and you have yourself one dangerous melting pot.
We need to see a strong visible police presence on the strip from midnight Friday until the wee hours of Monday morning -“ every weekend. Not two officers, but six, eight or even 10. And constant patrols -“ teams of two or three looping up and down either side of the street, talking to revellers and watching what is happening.
The only way to achieve this is to apply pressure to the right people -“ the NSW Government, in particular Police Minister David Campbell and Attorney-General John Hatzistergos.
The NSW Government determines how much money and how many officers Surry Hills Police Station gets. It shouldn’t be left to the local council to pay for police patrols, and without adequate numbers the local men and women in blue cannot be expected to do the job they are trained to do.
So it is time for us as a community to start exercising our political right to be represented. Write to Campbell and Hatzistergos and tell them about the times you have felt threatened, been abused, attacked and assaulted. Tell them about the times your friends and family have suffered the same indignity.
And, most importantly, tell them you demand more police on Oxford St on Friday and Saturday nights.