A local council in Victoria will raise a rainbow flag and has “unequivocally condemned” homophobia following recent assaults on gay men in Melbourne.
Three weeks ago, Victoria Police arrested six teenagers accused of assaulting the gay men in parklands in December and January.
The group of teenagers allegedly catfished the men on a gay app.
They posed as an adult male with a fake profile and lured the gay men to the Ashwood park, police said.
The group then allegedly verbally abused the men with homophobic slurs and assaulted them.
At a Monash Council meeting on Tuesday night (February 22), Greens councillor Josh Fergeus (pictured) put forward a motion in response.
The motion acknowledged the alleged assaults and “unequivocally condemns homophobia in all its forms.”
Cr Fergeus also called on the Council to fly the rainbow flag all next week in a show of solidarity with the LGBTIQ community.
The Monash Council passed the motion unanimously on Tuesday night.
‘Every time we must demand this is the last time’
Cr Josh Fergeus told the meeting the alleged gay hate crimes occurred close to home. He said he learned of the Victoria Police investigation “with great sadness”.
He said everyone must “stand up each and every time” someone in the community is attacked for who they are.
“We must say that homophobia, that this kind of vilification and hate and violence is unequivocally unacceptable,” Fergeus said.
He stressed the ongoing need to do so, as the assaults “weren’t perpetrated 100 years ago, or 50 years ago.”
“They weren’t perpetrated in some far-off place,” he said.
“They were perpetrated a few weeks ago, a few kilometres from where I’m sitting now.
“We have known and widely accepted for decades that gay men are targets of vicious homophobic assaults.
“They still occur. That hate still exists within our society.
“We must stand up each and every time and demand that this is the last time [and] unequivocally condemn homophobia in all its forms.
“We must stand in solidarity with gay men, lesbian women, queer bisexual and trans people and say loudly and often that everyone is welcome here in Monash, in our city.”
Victoria Police step up patrols after assaults
Victoria Police said after the crimes they had increased their patrols of parks and gardens in the Ashwood area.
Detective Sergeant Brendon Pollock also denounced hate crime and said everyone has a right to feel safe.
“Prejudice motivated crime has no place in our society,” he said earlier this month.
“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.”
If this has brought up issues for you, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
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