Online forums protesting lock-out laws are becoming increasingly popular, but reports last week that at least one of these sites is funded by the Australian Hotels Association have raised concerns that the gay community is being targeted with propaganda.

Facebook now boasts at least half a dozen anti-2am lock-out groups, including one specifically devoted to the Oxford St area, Petition against the Oxford St 2am lock-out, which currently has 231 members.

The dontpunishus.com.au affiliated Facebook group, with 14,300 members, is the largest online group.

Started as a website in its own right a month after the introduction of lock-out laws the site, which had promoted itself as a grassroots movement, was last week found to have been started and funded by members of the Australian Hotels Association.

In light of this, community member James Fry objected to the site’s attempt to rally the gay community in a blog piece labelling the laws as discriminatory.

The thing that’s gotten to me is the underhanded tactics the AHA have been pulling in to dupe not only the gay community but the people who enjoy the Sydney nightlife as a whole, Fry said.

The AHA have a legitimate right to voice their interests and oppositions, as does anyone in this country but to mask their objection as a grassroots or gay and lesbian rights issue, and to use terms like -˜draconian measures’ and -˜the end of Sydney nightlife’, when really it’s about them protecting their bottom line, that’s when it gets to me.

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