Weekend of violence

Weekend of violence

At least three people were attacked near Oxford St last weekend, in a spate of homophobic violence that has rocked the community.

One known incident occurred at Taylor Square on Sunday afternoon, in which one man was punched in the face and another was hit over the head with a bottle.

The injured men were rushed to St Vincent’s Hospital and have since been released. One of the alleged offenders was arrested by police and charged with assault.

ACON Anti-Violence Project (AVP) coordinator Carl Harris said the attack was one of a number of bashings in the Oxford St precinct at the weekend, but the victims were yet to come forward.

One of the biggest problems we face in terms of improving security around Oxford St is the fact that most victims of, witnesses to, homophobic violence don’t report it, he said.

As a result, the stats are a lot lower than they should be, which in turn diminishes the need for action to be taken by the relevant authorities.

So we’re encouraging anyone who was a victim of or who witnessed any homophobic violence in the Oxford St area over the weekend to please report it to the police and the AVP.

NSW Police gay, lesbian and transgender spokeswoman Superintendent Karen Webb said Surry Hills police were trained to identify and act on homophobic crime.

There are also a number of trained gay and lesbian liaison officers based at Surry Hills and other commands that can provide services to victims if required, she said.

However, ACON CEO Stevie Clayton said more visible policing was needed along the strip.

Violence of any kind is completely unacceptable, she said. We’ve been campaigning for years for a range of security measures to be implemented to better protect people in our community.

Surry Hills Superintendent Daryl Donnolley said officers ran frequent high visibility and plainclothes operations in the area.

Surry Hills Local Area Command are working continuously and dedicating resources to minimise alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour, he said.

Oxford St attracts large numbers of people from outside the area, particularly on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

In addition to local resources, Supt Donnolley said police run Middle Eastern and Organised Crime Squad, Public Order and Riot Squad and regional operations on those nights.

Clayton said promised joint patrols by Surry Hills Police and City of Sydney rangers had yet to happen.

The implementation of the Safety Strategy has been an important step forward, she said. But this latest spate of homophobic violence really underscores the need for police to take immediate action and for the police minister to provide adequate resources to the Local Area Command.

Supt Donnolley said police had more than 60 hotels in the area to look after, including 11 nightclubs.

We work with the various agencies, premises and management to support responsible service, he said.

But unfortunately some people drink to excess and this creates the problems.

A City of Sydney Council spokesman said the council had implemented a number of safety initiatives, including CCTV cameras. He was unable to clarify when the joint patrols of Oxford St would take place.

To report homophobic violence phone 000. To contact the Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project phone 9206 2116 or 1800 063 060 or visit www.avp.acon.or.au.

VOTE: Is Oxford St still safe for gays and lesbians? Vote in our poll at www.ssonet.com.au.

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