The recent hate bashings on Oxford St are a sad reminder that homophobia is still a grim reality in our lives.
Every homophobic attack against a member of our community wounds not only the victim but each and every one of us. When a basher attacks, we all feel the blow and we all ask what we can do.
Our strength as a community has been built through decades of fighting together to gain acceptance, in our continued campaign to have the laws and people of this nation recognise us as equals, and in the celebration of our unique and vibrant community.
In our response to violence, we must rise above the hateful tactics used by those who attack us and resist responding to homophobic violence with further stereotypes and prejudice. It is unfortunate that some of the letters and online comments made in the wake of Craig Gee’s bashing have made unfair generalisations about one racial group.
We cannot forget that the GLBT community is made up of people from a wide range of cultural and racial backgrounds. In creating a space free from homophobia for our community we have a responsibility to ensure we create a safe space for everyone.
We need a comprehensive response to violence, aimed at addressing the causes of hate violence, not just its symptoms.
As an immediate goal, we must address the way in which victims of violence are dealt with by Surry Hills Police. We need a police presence on Oxford St with officers trained to deal with the GLBT community in an understanding and compassionate manner.
But the solution must also be more far-reaching and comprehensive than the 2010 postcode. There is an urgent need for anti-homophobia education, not just in high schools but in primary and pre-schools.
The NSW Government’s recent framework to address homophobic violence needs to be effectively implemented, providing training on GLBT issues for workers, educators and bureaucrats.
We need a holistic approach to this issue with the support of not only the Police Minister, but the Education Minister, the Attorney-General and the Premier. And we, as a community, need to support organisations like the Anti-Violence Project which has been working hard to tackle these issues for over 15 years now.
Our community now has a chance to show real leadership on this issue by coming up with constructive solutions to crimes motivated by hate – of all kinds.
Report any homophobic violence to the Anti-Violence Project’s Report Line, on 1800 063 060.
Emily Gray and Peter Johnson are the convenors of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.