The rate of gay hate crimes is expected to increase over Mardi Gras weekend, so stay street smart and safe is the message from ACON.

Homophobic violence spikes every year around Mardi Gras time, prompting ACON president Mark Orr to issue a string of hints to help ensure your safety while still having fun.

“Data gathered by the NSW Government, the City of Sydney and the Anti-Violence Project shows that gay men and lesbians are between four and six times more likely than the general population to experience prejudice-related abuse, harassment or assault,” he said.

“Even more disturbing is that during Mardi Gras the amount of gay hate crime increases even further to twice the regular level.”

To stay safe, Orr suggests the following tactics. “Firstly, we recommend that partygoers travel to and from venues with their friends or travel in taxis if they’re alone.

“We also suggest that they cover up their party clothes or get changed at the venue to avoid being a target.

“Secondly we advise that they stick with their mates, especially if their mates are drunk or out of it, because alcohol and other drugs can reduce awareness.

“Finally, all violence and harassment should be reported to the AVP because if the level and types of violence are on the public record, then agencies such as ACON can lobby for improved security for our community.”

The AVP Safe Place at 60 Oxford St will be open to provide protection and assistance to anyone being harassed. In case of emergency call 000 or the NSW Police switchboard on 9281 0000 and ask for the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer.

Contact the AVP via SMS, 0416 905 105. Put the number in your phone before you head out this weekend. You can also phone 1800 063 060 or visit the online reporting module at www.avp.acon.org.au.

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