DESPITE two separate incidents of violent attacks on gay men in Sydney’s inner city, NSW police don’t believe there is an epidemic of homophobia and are urging people to be careful ahead of the Mardi Gras season.

Over the weekend, NSW Police reported on two violent incidents directed at gay men that occurred in the Surry Hills and Redfern area.

 A young man is in serious condition following an assault by a group of young men and women early Sunday morning.

About 1am on Sunday, the 22-year-old man was walking alone in McEvoy St when he was approached by a group of young men and women where he was struck in the face by a member of the group. After falling to the ground he was punched and kicked until he lost consciousness.

The man awoke some time later on nearby Waterloo Oval, where he was assaulted a second time.

Detectives from Redfern Local Area Command are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incidents, including bias towards the man based on his sexual preference. They are appealing for help from the public who may have any information.

The man was treated in hospital for multiple facial fractures, tooth dislodgement and palate damage, and a possible head injury.

The other assault occurred just before 5am on Saturday morning in Surry Hills on Elizabeth St, between Devonshire and Cooper streets where two men sustained a number of injuries after becoming involved in a physical altercation with two other males.

“The occurrence of two bias-related assaults over one weekend is not common, and of concern to police,” said Superintendent Tony Crandell, the NSW Police Spokesperson on Sexuality and Gender Diversity.

In an email sent to various media outlets, Crandell said the time during the Mardi Gras season can be a higher risk for homophobic assaults.

“There is much more visibility on the streets, rainbow flags flying and an increase in community members going out at night to celebrate Mardi Gras festival activities,” he said.

“Unfortunately, this can also be a drawcard for those who seek to abuse LGBTI people.”

Crandell said police wanted to ensure the safety of all visitors and residents from violent behaviours and there would be a high visibility of the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers (GLLO) to protect people participating in Mardi Gras events.

“With the Mardi Gras season upon us, and with larger numbers of people visiting Sydney’s inner suburbs, help police to keep you safe by being aware of your surroundings at all times and calling Triple Zero if you feel under threat,” he said.

“It is important to remain aware of your safety and keep an eye out for your friends. Try not to travel or walk alone, stick to well lit areas if you can and please contact the police immediately if you encounter abuse or violence.”

Police have offered the following safety tips for people when they are out walking:

· Stick to major routes and roads and don’t take short cuts
· Use footpaths that are well lit and not closed in by bushes or obstacles
· Stay in groups of people
· Change direction if you think you are being followed and seek a safe place

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