Victoria police have arrested six boys aged between 14 and 19 for allegedly carrying out homophobic attacks on gay men in Melbourne. The teenaged boys would pose as adults on dating apps to lure gay men to parklands in Ashwood, a suburb around 14 kilometres from Melbourne CBD, and then assault them.

Trigger Warning: This story has details of homophobic attacks on gay men and might be distressing to some readers. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

Five of the boys were arrested on Friday – two 14-year-old boys, two 15-year-old boys and a 16-year-old boy. They were all released the same day and are to be charged with assault and robbery offences, a Victoria Police spokesperson said. 

Advertisement
On January 27, the police had arrested another 19-year-old boy as part of the same investigations. According to the police, he has been summoned to appear at the Ringwood Magistrates’ court to face charges of attempted robbery and recklessly causing injury. 

Attacks On Gay Men Started In December

Police had launched an investigation into a series of attacks on gay men that started some time in December last year. The police will allege in court that a “group of youths have been using a dating app to pose as an adult male to lure gay men to parklands in the Ashwood area.”

The police said that the victims were all “allegedly assaulted and subjected to homophobic comments”.

One of the first cases was of a 47-year-old man from Glen Waverly who was assaulted on December 16, 2021 around 9 pm. He did not suffer any physical injuries. 

Two days later on December 18 around 1 am, a 42-year-old man from Ashwood sustained facial injuries when he was allegedly set upon by the boys. Then on January 7, 2022 around 2 am, a 27-year-old man was assaulted and suffered minor injuries. All three attacks took place at a reserve on Harlequin Drive. 

Motivated By Hate

A file photo of Victoria Police at the 2021 Midsumma Pride Parade. Photo- Mattia Abad

“Prejudice motivated crime has no place in our society,” said ED1 Divisional Crime Team Detective Sergeant Brendon Pollock in a media statement, adding “everyone had a right to feel safe, including members of our LGBTIQ community.”

“Police treat any incidents motivated by hate seriously and we will act swiftly when we receive any reports. Victoria Police is committed to ensuring the safety of all members of our community, including Beat users.”

Advertisement
The police said that the investigations are ongoing and they have increased their patrol of parks and gardens around Ashwood. The police have also urged anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report to www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

Hate Crimes In Victoria

Data released last year had revealed a worrying spike in gay-hate crimes in Victoria over the past few years.

According to data from the Crime Statistics Agency, in 2020 around 148 offences were registered with the modus operandi code classifying it as “Prejudicially Motivated Crimes – Sexual Orientation”. In 2019, there were 121 offences in this category.

A report by the Victorian Parliament’s Legal and Social Issues Committee last year had found that “prejudice and hate are still rife in Victoria, and our anti-vilification laws are failing to deliver upon its objectives and purposes”. The Dan Andrews Labor government had in September 2021 announced that state’s anti-vilification laws would be extended to include sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and HIV/AIDS status.

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

 

© Star Observer 2022 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.