A man has been charged with assault and a young woman left with serious injuries in what’s been described as a “homophobic assault” in a regional hotel.
Two men, Cameron Foley and 21-year-old Shaun Downey, were subjected to a homophobic tirade while out drinking at the Metropolitan Hotel on Byng St, Orange on the night of Saturday, May 4. A 54-year-old man allegedly began acting aggressively towards them, calling them “queers” and “fags” before slapping Downey in the face.
While Downey was uninjured, 29-year-old Katrina Catanzariti said she was grabbed and thrown across the room shortly after coming to his aid, landing on a table and suffering severe injuries.
Paramedics took Catanzariti, who is a friend of the two men, to Orange Base Hospital where she was treated for a broken nose, a deep cut to the head and a cracked skull.
Catanzariti told regional newspaper the Central Western Daily that she had difficulty comprehending the incident.
“I’m now going to have scarring for the rest of my life on my face,” Catanzariti said.
“I just can’t understand why this happened. It’s so sad that a lot of the time the abuse comes from older gentlemen.”
The man was arrested by police two days later and charged with reckless wounding and assault. He is due to appear in Orange Local Court on May 30 and has been granted conditional bail.
Speaking to the Central Western Daily, Canobolas Local Area Command duty officer Dave Harvey said police “haven’t established” whether the incident was a homophobic attack and encouraged people with concerns to contact Orange Police’s gay and lesbian liaison officer, Jane Paroissien.
In 2011 the local member for the electorate in which Orange sits, Calare Nationals MP John Cobb, invited residents to contact his office to gauge public opinion on same-sex marriage in the electorate. According to reports at the time, 87 percent of responses Cobb’s office received expressed their opposition to same-sex marriage.
Neither the two young men nor Catanzariti were able to comment further.