With Local Government elections on 13 September it seems like everyone wants to be our friends. Never before has the issue of homophobic violence taken such political precedence, with City of Sydney candidates of every stripe addressing the issue in their campaigns.
The most radical plan has come from the Liberals’ Shayne Mallard, with his call for van-loads of civilian city guardians to patrol the area. But without any real powers or means to protect themselves, what’s to stop these guardians from getting bashed themselves?
Ultimately the buck stops with the State Government and what level of resources it’s prepared to allocate to local police. Any solution from Council can only patch the holes that leaves.
Considering the age of many perpetrators, State laws that allow schools to opt out of anti-homophobia programs are another part of the problem that remains unaddressed -” with little will from Government in that regard.
Patrols by City of Sydney rangers may fill in some of the gaps and, while declared homophobia-free precincts might not have much effect on the thugs themselves, they should send a message to the businesses that serve them.
The campaign is also hotting up in the ring of GLBT-friendly councils that surround the city.
It seems some inner-west Labor candidates are so worried about being punished for the failures of the Iemma Government that they’re leaving the party off campaign material or using tiny logos in the hope of being mistaken for independents -” one Summer Hill candidate has even resorted to environmental slogans and colouring his posters green.
In Marrickville, GLBT issues are yet to enter the campaign, though many gay and lesbian voters will remember with pride the way local council Greens stood up to the Coalition, the State Government and The Daily Telegraph when they were attacked for providing material that was inclusive of same-sex families in their childcare centres in 2006.
Instead, an alliance of Labor and independent councillors has been trying to paint the Greens as environmental hypocrites over plans to upgrade the swimming pool in Enmore Park from 33m to 50m. The Greens support the upgrade, as currently the little-used pool is too small for school carnivals and is leaking water into the park.
State MP and retiring Labor councillor Penny Sharpe was also criticised recently for sending a black anonymous pamphlet to Marrickville voters listing supposed failures by Council over four years under Green and Independent control without any mention of its party origin. Expect more of the same -” with everything on the line for Labor, it should be an interesting campaign.