NSW Police Minister David Campbell held an emergency meeting on Wednesday to find ways of combating the increase in homophobic violence in the city.
Police, politicians and community leaders addressed the escalating problem of homophobic abuse and physical attacks, further highlighted by a violent incident between two men in their early 20s outside Oxford Street’s Exchange Hotel on Sunday morning.
Wednesday’s three-hour meeting followed the release of new Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures that found the vast number of assaults in the Sydney City area occurred in Kings Cross, Oxford St, Taylor Square, and George St on weekends between midnight and 6am.
Assault, common assault, and violence were against the law, Campbell told Wednesday’s meeting, adding he would work with stakeholders and police to identify ways to “work towards a sense of equality”.
“This is a very important issue for police in areas such as Surry Hills and Newtown, where the gay and lesbian communities are large and vibrant,” Campbell said.
“The purpose of the forum is to ensure that the strategies being employed by the NSW Government and police are responding to the specific needs of the gay and lesbian community.”
Campbell told the meeting that homophobic violence was “clearly a problem” in areas of Sydney and there was “a sense of disconnect between those people who identify the problem and the police”.
Campbell told the meeting a review of the NSW Police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer (GLLO) program was under way. That review, he said, would incorporate feedback from Wednesday’s meeting.
“The forum was established following concerns raised by parliamentary colleagues and reports in the gay media about increasing incidents of homophobic violence, mostly in Oxford St, but also in King St, Newtown,” Campbell said.
“I am also concerned by reports that victims may be reluctant to report homophobic violence.”
Police have been under increased pressure in recent months to respond to the increase in violence against gays and lesbians.
While police statistics don’t support claims of an increase in homophobic violence, the Anti-Violence Project (AVP) has reported a jump in anti-gay incidents and complaints about police handling of those cases.
The result is a new gay and lesbian safe space to be opened at 60 Oxford St at the end of the month, sponsored by the City of Sydney and AVP.
As well, the Generation Q Street Angels are due to start patrols of Oxford St in two weeks, with the help of a string of volunteers and Dykes on Bikes.

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