LGBTQ+ safety under threat in Sydney after hateful attack on Pride event

Sydney Welcomes The World To Celebrate LGBTQIA+ For Sydney WorldPride 2023

Sydney, Australia’s LGBTQ+ community is recovering from an upsetting attack on a Pride event in the city’s Bankstown area.

The event, called Wear It Purple, was abruptly shut down after a group of men were seen tearing down LGBTQ+ flags, shouting abuse, and generally causing trouble.

Wear It Purple is an international day of awareness that encourages people to wear purple on the last Friday in August to show support for LGBTQ+ youth around the world.

To celebrate the day, a pop-up stall had been set up in Bankstown Central shopping centre, offering support and advice to LGBTQ+ youth, as well as a drag story time event and an appearance from comedian and drag performer Carla from Bankstown.

A spokesperson for the City of Canterbury Bankstown told The Sydney Morning Herald that the homophobic incident was being taken seriously as a hate crime and that investigations were underway.

Sydney Pride
A Sydney Pride event was shut down after an anti-LGBTQ+ attack threatened safety. (Getty Images)

“It was a small group of people who are not representative of our city who wanted to cause trouble,” she said. 

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“Their actions can best be described as a hate crime, and they must be called out.”

While other officials have acknowledged an increase in reports of anti-LGBTQ+ attacks in Sydney, they’re hesitant to label it as a sudden influx of homophobia or transphobia – but rather an increase in homophobic or transphobic incidents actually being reported to police.

New South Wales Police’s corporate sponsor for communities Anthony Cooke acknowledged that there had been a recent “increase in crime, threats of violence or intimidation directed toward members of the community, specifically in the Oxford Street precinct.”

He added: “While actual reports do not necessarily support that view [that threats are increasing], I acknowledge that perception is a concern and that there may be underreporting.”

Sydney Independent MP Alex Greenwich has noted that, in an effort to help the LGBTQ+ community feel safer, police have boosted their presence, particularly on Oxford Street, on Friday and Saturday nights.

However, Greenwich noted that the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ incident reports to his office and to NSW Police “could be a case of more reporting over more incidents.”

“Assaults and serious injuries don’t occur like they used to and the reports are mainly homophobic, transphobic, and dragphobic abuse incidents,” he said.

Meanwhile, Carla from Bankstown spoke about the disappointing incident in a statement posted to her Instagram and thanked fans and friends for their support.

“Thank you to everyone who has sent me a message about what happened on Wear It Purple Day,” she wrote.

“My heart is so full with all the love and support. There have been so many gronks talking some s**t about our community but just remember we are strong, resilient, and incredible!

 “You are all loved and NEVER let anyone tell you otherwise! 

“To anyone reading this who has gone through or is going through something, please know that I’m here for you and there are so many places and people out there too that will support you! 

“To my incredible LGBTQIA+ community, especially the youth, I see you, and you are loved! Spread Love Gronks!”

This reported rise in anti-LGBTQ+ actions comes just months after Sydney hosted this year’s WorldPride event.

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