Gay venue owners in South Yarra have vowed to protect patrons with new measures to tackle homophobic harassment in the area.
Three homophobic incidents around Commercial Rd went unreported to police between April and July this year, sparking the Anti-Violence Project Victoria to implement a violence-reduction strategy in the area.
A pilot training program has been rolled out in key gay venues in the Stonnington Council area — Heaven’s Door, Priscilla’s, The Market Hotel and the Xchange Hotel. The program involves training security and bar staff to respond effectively to violence.
The AVP, in consultation with Victoria Police, has also developed a poster series now displayed in the venues to create a culture of reporting homophobic — or other — violence to police when it occurs.
AVP convenor Greg Adkins said he hopes the campaign will be extended to ‘straight’ venues in the area. He hopes to present the pilot at an upcoming Liquor Accord meeting which involves key licensed venue owners in the municipality.
“We’ll present the project to the Accord so we can work with the City of Stonnington to fully roll this program out,” Adkins said.
Heaven’s Door owner Brian Frewin said, although he doesn’t feel there’s been a dramatic rise in homophobic incidents in the Commercial Rd area, patrons have described verbal attacks around Chapel St late at night.
“We’re behind the campaign, our staff are trained to respond and I’ll be taking any concerns to the next Accord meeting,” Frewin said.
Adkins has also mooted similar action for Brunswick in the wake of anecdotal reports of homophobic harassment in the area.
According to the AVP crime map, two egging attacks have also occurred recently in which anti-gay language was used in the Maribyrnong area.
The ALSO Foundation is involved in a state Government-funded research project to develop a community education plan to reduce homophobic harassment in Victoria.
info: Visit www.antiviolence.info

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