MULTIPLE homophobic assaults in Sydney and Melbourne have occurred in the past 24 hours and have left some of the victims wondering how anti-LGBTI sentiment is still alive in 2016.
Thomas Grainger was returning home on the train last night after performing as his drag character Amnesia Shadows at Shift Club on Oxford St where he was faced with a number of terrifying assaults.
“A group of people that were already on the train, got up and moved. One of the girls asked why they were moving and the guy said ‘I can’t be on the same train on faggots’.
“I’m used to that stuff though, I get it all the time.”
As the train approached Granville four people got on the train and when they noticed Grainger, started hurling insults at him.
“They were very big and they were saying things like ‘you fucking male slut in high heels’,” he said.
“I got up to move away from them and when they saw I was in drag they started saying ‘you trans slut, I’m going to get you’.”
Grainger started moving between carriages to get away from them, but they split up and circled him at either end of the train. It wasn’t until a group of men got on the train and defended him that he felt safe.
“I think they were quite drunk, one of the guys started hugging me and wouldn’t let go I felt quite uncomfortable,” he said.
“He was my safe option even though he was being sleazy. I basically had to put up with being groped to be safe and not get bashed.”
Grainger didn’t report the issue because he wasn’t sure if the police would take his report seriously and was worried he would be blamed for catching the train dressed in drag.
“It really upsets me this stuff continues to happen,” he said.
“I thought, ‘do I call the police, what can they do, I’m in drag, will there be any sympathy?’ My concern is whether it gets treated seriously enough. That was the mentality I was in.”
NSW Police Superintendent Tony Crandell and commander of the LGBTI GLLO program encouraged Grainger to report the incident to prevent the group from hurting anyone else.
“Firstly, homophobic bullying is never OK. The circumstances and behaviour described is criminal in nature and should be reported to police,” he said.
“This form of bullying behaviour targeted the victim’s perceived sexuality or gender. Any behaviour that de-escalates such a situation is appropriate.
“With the offence of intimidation (or possibly assault depending upon the closeness of perpetrator to victim) occurring on a train or railway station, police have an excellent chance of identifying those responsible through CCTV.
“It is important to reassure him that nothing he did promoted these behaviours which will always remain unacceptable and contrary to the expectations of modern society.”
In Melbourne, Greens candidate for Higgins Jason Ball was also the victim of homophobia yesterday when one of his campaign posters was graffitied with the word ‘fag’.
“It actually cut pretty deep, it was a slur I heard in high school,” he said.
“We were made aware of vandalism to a phone booth a few days ago and that said ‘gay’ and we made decision to clean it off and not give it publicity.
“But this time I decided I wanted to take a stand, to send hope and strength to the LGBTI community. We shouldn’t be threatened on our march to equality.”
By speaking out, Ball wants to be a role model for younger LGBTI people and the ongoing homophobia he receives is a sign the equality fight is winning.
“It’s indicative those who oppose equality are are dying out and this is a sign of desperation,” he said.
“First they bully us, then they laugh at us, then they fight us, then we win… this is the tide of change that can no longer be stopped.”
Ball believes the key to ending homophobic attacks should come from the leadership of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
“We need the Prime Minister to show leadership and he needs to understand if he continues with a plebiscite… it will lead to the hate and violence we have seen over the past few days.
“These are the acts of hate he will be legitimising.”
Disclaimer: Both Ball and Grainger are friends of the journalist.
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