Homophobic graffiti scrawled on a road sign for Daylesford has caused unease in some locals who fear homophobia is alive and well in the region.
The sign — defaced with the words ‘Poofta Town’ — was discovered on Castlemaine Rd, Creswick by resident Chris Sitka.

Sitka said alarm bells rang again when, on the same day, she saw a car in Daylesford with a bumper sticker reading ‘Poofta-Free Zone’.
“I don’t usually get scared, but it puts you on alert because you know it’s a sign there’s an undercurrent of violence,” Sitka told Southern Star.

“I’ve had people throw rocks through my window, I’ve had signs spray painted in houses I’ve lived in, then I get evicted because some yobbos have spray painted ‘lesbian’ over the house.

“These are the things I’ve experienced as an out lesbian all my life, so that’s why I don’t ignore a sign like that.”

Creswick Police Senior Constable Philip Mudgway told Southern Star he was surprised to hear of the defaced sign and believed it to be an isolated incident.

“I’ve been here for around 10 years and that’s the first time there’s been a homophobic incident,” Mudgway said.

He said he hadn’t received any complaints and put the incident down to someone with “a couple of beers under their belt”.

Creswick, a 20-minute drive from Daylesford, has hosted ChillOut festival events in the past. Festival president Adam Wright said he did not expect a surge of hate signs during the annual event.

“I’m positive that ChillOut has existed for a decade with no major incidents,” Wright said.

He said the sign indicates there is still work the gay and lesbian community needs to do.

“I think Daylesford overall, compared to most rural and regional areas, is probably one of the most integrated, diverse communities and that doesn’t mean this isn’t concerning. It just goes to show that as a whole the GLBT community has a way to go to continue that fight against ignorance and hatred and homophobia.”

Daylesford resident of 10 years and ChillOut secretary Noelene Gration said the sign was unpleasant, but believed it was not cause for great alarm.

“I’ve been here for 10 years and I’ve experienced more homophobia in Melbourne than I’ve ever experienced in Daylesford,” Gration said.
Hepburn Mayor Janine Booth said the statement did not reflect the view of the community.
“It is a concern … you’ve got to wonder about the intelligence of someone who uses public property to force their limited views on others,” Booth said.
“We’ll keep a watchful eye … but we think ChillOut is bigger and better than this and I don’t think it will affect the festival.”

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