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Sydney: Campaigning for a safer gay street

Fri 25 Jan 2008 In: International News View at Wayback

Homophobic violence along Sydney's Oxford Street - the home of many of its gay venues - is looming as the major issue for many of the contenders in the City of Sydney council elections later this year, with the Greens and Liberals calling for new thinking on the issue. Greens party leader Lee Rhiannon vowed to make the issue a top priority during the campaign, reports the Sydney Star Observer newspaper. "We're not blaming any specific person for this, but violence is obviously a complex issue and we need to be using all opportunities to raise it," she said. "It's got to be policies on the ground. Clearly the local council needs to work with police, but there's a real role for it in changing what that entertainment precinct is used for. Sydney Liberal councillor Shayne Mallard offered a 10-point plan including expanding and upgrading the CCTV network and advertising it with warning signs. Mallard has not backed down on council paying for supplementary policing, which Lord Mayor Clover Moore has maintained is not permissible. "Council already funds areas that have traditionally been state government responsibilities including CCTV, homeless services and health care," Mallard said. "It is time this Council did more than flower boxes, worthy reports and pointing the finger." He also called for incentives for gay venues on Oxford St to stay gay. A number of gay venues have development applications to increase viability. The Colombian Hotel has requested a 24-hour licence, Arq nightclub plans a new street-level small bar to operate during the week, and Slide wants to cut its security staff by a third. Marc Kuzma from Slide bar said there was no violence within the gay venue, only outside where it maintained four security staff to protect patrons. Arq proprietor Shadd Danesi said the gay clubs have always been part of the solution. "In regards to clubs contributing, Arq has already put security guards on Sturt and Taylor streets for the last nine years," he said. "Both those streets were fairly violent and we've cleaned them up. It's cost in excess of $1.2 million in wages for those security guards. We've contributed a massive amount of money to keeping the surrounding streets safe." Moore and Mallard are both scheduled to speak at Saturday's vigil against homophobic violence.    

Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff

First published: Friday, 25th January 2008 - 10:24am

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