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Lake Macquarie dunny days numbered

Newcastle Herald — 21 Mar, 2011

NINE public toilets are planned to be demolished in Lake Macquarie under a city council plan to upgrade, replace and close toilet blocks.

“The majority of people do not expect councils will provide all public toilets,” a council report said.

“Shopping centres, food outlets, entertainment venues and service stations are regular public-toilet providers.”

Antisocial behaviour at public toilets included vandalism, graffiti, theft, assault, sexual activity, drug use and arson. Few of the toilets met the needs of disabled people.

After examining 107 public toilets, the report recommended retaining 55, replacing 14, modifying or upgrading 11, demolishing nine, conducting safety assessments on nine, opening seven only when sport occurs at the site, and relocating two.

Councillors had listed public toilets as one area to be examined in a service review, which aimed to cut costs. The report said the closure of some toilets would reduce maintenance and cleaning costs, but the replacement, upgrade and extra cleaning of others would increase costs.

Read Article

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New guide to safer beat sex

SameSame Local News, 28th January, 2011 — Read Article

HIV-fighting groups in Victoria say their new pocket-sized guide to casual ‘beat’ sex doesn’t condone it, but aims to provide accurate health information and advice for those who do it.

Beating Around The Bush is out now, and features essential details about personal safety, legal issues, sexual health and STI testing for men who have sex in parks, public toilets and other areas away from home.

“In some rural areas, beats can be a main point of contact for many men who have sex with men,” says the guide.

“Beats however, can pose risks for those who use them. The following information provides some things to consider if visiting a beat to increase your safety.”

The guide recommends getting regular sexual health checks, which are available anonymously and free from check-up centres around Australia’s main cities.

Download the Guide

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Victoria Police out to recruit gay and lesbian officers

MCV – July 19, 2010

Victoria Police have launched a six million dollar, five-year recruitment campaign – and this time it embraces the LGBT community.

Following a high-profile launch on July 13 by Chief Commissioner Simon Overland, Victoria Police’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer Senior Constable Gabrielle Tyacke said she hoped gays and lesbians would consider joining the organisation.

“Victoria Police has many GLBTI people and I am one of them,” Tyacke told MCV. “We are looking to recruit people who mirror the community and GLBTI people are part of that community.”

Although sexuality is not mentioned, Victoria Police’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities recognises the inherent value and dignity of all people. Read more

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Overland proud to march

Southern Star – October 1, 2009

Overland proud to march

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland has today announced he will march in next year’s Pride March.

The announcement was made as part of a special JOY94.9 four-hour broadcast from the Victoria Police headquarters as part of Community Safety Month.

Overland was invited to attend the march by Pride March president Brett Hayhoe earlier this year.

“Victoria Police participation in events like this and the Harmony Walk earlier this year are important in developing a strong, vibrant and inclusive community,” Overland said in a statement.

“When we, as a community, celebrate diversity together we increase trust and break down barriers which help to lead to a safer community.”

View article and comment

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Stop having sex in our park

Northern Star – August 14, 2009

THE dog walkers of Ballina want to reclaim their park from men using it as a meeting place for casual sexual encounters.

THE dog walkers of Ballina want to reclaim their park from men using it as a meeting place for casual sexual encounters.

Bicentennial Gardens, a rest stop on the Pacific Highway on the northern approach to Ballina, has become an area known for homosexual meetings between men. Read more

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Police step up patrols at beats

Blaze • June 15, 2009

The AIDS Council of SA (ACSA) has confirmed that health outreach services to Penfold Park will continue despite Burnside Council’s decision to lock the toilet block after dark.

Following complaints from local residents that Penfold Park was being used as a gay beat, Burnside Council decided to implement a range of measures including installing sensor lights near the toilet block, removing foliage to boost visibility and closing the toilets and car park after dark.

According to the Eastern Courier, councillors supporting the measures said there was no need for the park to be used “after hours”. Councillor Jim Jacobsen was quoted saying the plan was a “patchwork solution” that would shift the problem elsewhere.

ACSA, SA’s leading non-government HIV/AIDS organisation, runs outreach programs which provide beat-users with health and safety messages and education.

ACSA Executive Director, Shane Dinnison, said that such measures as Burnside Council are introducing have never been shown to stop the existence of beats.

“Men using public amenities as a place to meet other men raises many issues in relation to health, safety and the law,” Dinnison said.

Read more

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‘Make GLLOs full-time’

SSO • April 14, 2009

Police GLLOs can be very effective if run as full-time units, a Washington DC police department spokesman told a gathering of defence, police and emergency services representatives on Saturday.

Acting Lieutenant Brett Parson, in Sydney last week as a guest of NSW Police and the Defence Gay and Lesbian Information Service, said when he was responsible for Washington’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit in 2001 he wanted to do real policing and investigate crimes in and against the gay community. Read more

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Time to work together – Assistant Commissioner Catherine Burn

SX • April 1, 2009

A police force regressing to homophobia? This is simply not true. Here, the Assistant Commissioner lays out the case why the NSW Police is not an enemy of the GLBT community.

Should any officer not act according to the law and their oath of office, I would be horrified. Should a police officer not come to the aid of any person in distress, I would be mortified. If a police officer showed prejudice or homophobic attitudes particularly whilst on duty, I would be disgusted. It is not acceptable. But as with solving crime, we need the community to approach us. It needs to be reported, and I encourage everyone to make a complaint if they do experience such behaviour. I would certainly be happy to listen, respond and, where necessary, investigate.

Read more

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Step back in time • Kathy Sant

SX • March 18, 2009

The venue lockouts and oppressive police actions at our events indicate a police force and government regressing to homophobia, writes Kathy Sant.

Sant said that while the NSW Police Force had worked hard to improve relations with the GLBT community in the past, “the police are now our enemy again – not all individuals, but the organisation and too many of its members”. Read more

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Police reject claim of hostility, aggression

SX • March 18, 2009

NSW Police have rejected claims made by GLBT community stalwart and prominent barrister Kathy Sant that police are treating the queer community in a hostile manner and displaying aggression towards the community at Mardi Gras and other community events. Read more

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Thin blue line • From the Editor

SX • March 18, 2009

NSW Police have a tough job.

While Sant is at pains to point out that she’s not a ‘cop-basher’ and that she respects the role of police, she complains that police actions at Mardi Gras and similar events have been oppressive. Read more

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And the beat goes on

The G Spot: Dr. Gertrude Glossip
Blaze • December 15, 2008

Dear blaze readers, do you ever transgress… perhaps just a little?

I’ve long considered that there’s something rather thrilling about ‘a walk on the wild side’ which may well involve behaviour society considers transgressive!

Now in most countries having sex in public is illegal. This is so in Australia where ‘indecent acts’ in public places are an offence under the criminal code. Of course what constitutes ‘an indecent act in a public place’ is open to interpretation. Police and courts consider ‘general community standards’, which change over time surely, when deciding what is ‘indecent’. And if the alleged ‘indecent act’ cannot be seen without the observer having to take abnormal or unusual action to observe it, it may not be deemed indecent.

Read more

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NSW police to get lessons on beat etiquette

SX • December 10, 2008

NSW Police have capitulated to queer lobby group Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) over complaints about alleged harassment of ‘beat users’ by police, and will now train officers in how to engage with men at gay cruising areas.

Senior police officers this week revealed that training would soon begin for constables in the wake of CAAH’s campaign against alleged police harassment and intimidation at Sydney Park, Alexandria and elsewhere.

Read more

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The beat (debate) goes on

SX • November 27, 2008

A senior law academic has thrown his weight behind the campaign against alleged police harassment of gay men at ‘beats’.

Speaking in the wake of the recent vigil by Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) to highlight the issue, Wayne Morgan, Senior Law Lecturer at the Australian National University, said that in light of infrequent arrests of men engaging in sex at beats, police presence at beats could only be explained as harassment.

“Police are patrolling these beats but are not generally making arrests, which begs the question, ‘Why are they there?’ My analysis is that they’re there purely to harass,” Morgan told SX. Read more

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Park sex for all

SX • November 26, 2008

Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) has received criticism of our campaign against police harassment of men in Sydney beats.

Those opposed say CAAH is attracting homophobic attacks of beat users by “outing” beats and police harassment therein. We should just move on, and police presence is helpful, not a form of harassment. Read more

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Police name target beat

SX • November 20, 2008

NSW Police has confirmed that patrols of a known beat at Sydney Park have increased in recent weeks due to a marked increase in complaints.

“Patrols of the Sydney Park area are made regularly and these have been increased in response to concerns of local residents regarding sexual activity within the park,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

“This is public space used by all members of the community and it is imperative for police to ensure the safety of all those using the park. Regardless of your sexual preference, it is not legal to engage in sexual activity of any kind in public.”

This comes after Community Action Against Homophobia raised concerns about the patrols as an infringement of privacy.

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To beat or not to beat

SX • November 20, 2008

If indeed the police are, to use CAAH’s words, ‘harassing’ and displaying ‘general homophobic behaviours’ toward beat users, then something must be done. Read more

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Activists march to the beat

SX • November 20, 2008

Rain failed to deter 20 people from attending a vigil in Sydney Park on Saturday to protest alleged harassment of ‘beat users’ by police.

The vigil, in the park’s AIDS Memorial Grove and organised by Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH), was held in response to recent complaints about police intimidation, including allegations that officers were subjecting men to derogatory comments and threats to use pepper spray. Read more

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Beats the hell out of me

SSO • November 19, 2008

CAAH’s vigil over the weekend defending beat users from police patrols couldn’t have had stranger timing, coming less than two months after a youth was convicted of the stabbing death of disabled man Gerard Fleming at another beat in Sydney’s north. Read more

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NSW police: hunting gay men at beats

Green Left Weekly • November 14, 2008

Beats used to be a place where men could meet before gay pride movements won the right to meet in pubs and clubs. Now, beat users are often men exploring their sexuality and those in the process of coming out.

Police presence at a large NSW beat has increased significantly over the last two months. Read more

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Police harassing beat users

SX • November 13, 2008

NSW Police are wasting time and resources targeting gay men at ‘beats’ when they could be focussing on real crime, said group Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) this week.

Launching a new campaign against police harassment of GLBT people at beats across Sydney, CAAH said beat users had reported a significant increase in police intimidation recently, and announced they would hold a peaceful sit-in in Sydney Park, Alexandria this Saturday night to publicise the issue. Read more

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Gay activists campaign for sex in parks

LIVENEWS.com.au • November 13, 2008

Gay activists will hold a ‘sit in’ in a Sydney park this weekend to protest at what they say is a wasteful police crackdown on men who have sex in the public space.

The group Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) say ‘beats’ such as those in Sydney Park in St Peters play an “integral role in queer culture, particularly for men coming out”.

“The fact is it’s in an isolated area of a park, at night, in the dark, and no-one’s being hurt,” the group’s spokesperson Rachel Evans told gay magazine SX. Read more

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CAAH hunts beat patrols

SSO • November 11, 2008

Community Action Against Homophobia has launched a project to defend the beat users.

CAAH spokeswoman Rachel Evans said the activist group had already received several reports of harassment at beats, and was concerned by claims of regular police patrols. Read more

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Police accused of harassing men at beats

The Wire, 2SER • November 11, 2008

Police in NSW have been accused of harassing men at “beats” – public spaces such as parks and toilets where men go to have anonymous sex with men.

Community Action Against Homophobia (or CAAH) have been monitoring parks, in particular Sydney Park in St Peters. They say police are targeting men, by blitzing beats in the early morning, unlawfully banning men from the park and handcuffing them without charge. And they’re concerned it’s not just happening in Sydney. Listen

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Bring the inside, outside

SSO • September 23, 2008

Winter has finally come and gone and now spring has sprung. The skies are blue, the flowers have all bloomed and it’s mating season in the animal kingdom.

David Attenborough has always told us that most animals get it on during spring. I think it has something to do with the fact that their bits have finally thawed out.

So why not join them? All through winter you have been under the pink covers keeping warm in the seclusion of your house so why not try to have a little fun outside? Bring the inside, outside. Perhaps it’s
time to try a little outdoor loving. Read more

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Private matters

SX • Thursday, 23 August 2007

Police resources may be stretched, but they still manage to cover the beats, Stephen Bull reports.

I recently defended a client charged with indecent behaviour and I thought SX readers might be interested in the outcome of the case.

My client was caught standing in a toilet cubicle in Marrickville with another man. The police evidence was that the plain-clothes young constable saw two pairs of feet under a closed toilet door, promptly jumped up and looked over the door and saw the shocking sight of two men standing together. The door was locked and nothing was seen apart from feet.

This flagrant display of feet caused the police to arrest both men on the spot and handcuff them. Both made no move to flee the scene and were co-operative. When the senior sergeant appeared, the first thing he did was order that the two men be uncuffed.

The magistrate found the thought of two men having sex in a toilet cubicle in a public park in the middle of the day when children were present objectively offensive. Such a use of the toilet would scare the children who used the park.

The decision shows more than anything else that mainstream attitudes rule. My personal analysis is that the middle-class families moving into Marrickville have been complaining like hell about the perverts in ‘their’ park. In terms of penalty, the magistrate dismissed the charge without a conviction. The lightest sentence possible. I advised my client to appeal.

In my earlier article, I did criticise the NSW police for directing resources towards prosecuting gay men in the suburbs and suggested that there was a bit of institutional homophobia floating around the NSW police. I can now safely renew this criticism. The two police, who arrested and cuffed my client for standing in a toilet cubicle, were in an unmarked police vehicle, in plain clothes and on what they described as ‘proactive policing duties’ within the Marrickville Local Area Command. It must have been a slow day. They were roaming around Marrickville targeting what they perceived as anti-social behaviour at their discretion. Both admitted, under cross-examination, that there was no complaint that day concerning activity in the park but it was well known by police as a gay beat. Nothing to do, go bust some poofs.

The NSW police is a huge organisation with a long history. It contains some humane and well-intentioned people at all levels. It is trite to demonise the police as the enemy. It is also inherently conservative. In the police mindset, ‘one of us’ is not an openly gay male.

Lesbians seem to function better in the NSW police although there have been some celebrated incidents when the ladies appear to have been thrown out of the club. The example of Lola Scott springs to mind. Dykes appear to fit in better through sheer force of numbers. I don’t think you can underestimate numbers. For some reasoning, joining the police is something that gay women like to do. Butch dykes can also talk about tits and football which is handy.

I know of very few openly gay men in the NSW police who find it a comfortable place to be. I have seen some nasty and weird things happen with police officers that like to have sex with other men. The pop psychologist in me would tend to diagnose the problem as the self-hating homosexual. An ugly beast in anyone’s home.

Bureaucracies have their own unspoken rules of membership. Don’t ask me to point out the section in the police handbook that says poofters are bad news but they definitely are not part of the law enforcement club in New South Wales. Some of the ‘cultural’ issues that make police gay-unfriendly are not gay-specific but part of broader issues concerning minorities, gender and sexuality. Police tend to divide the world up into ‘us’ and ‘them/criminals’.

The police force has a huge turnover of staff. Many are now recruited and out of the place in about two years. Many police at the coalface have little experience and less judgment. The young constable who handcuffed my client for no reason said he handcuffed him because he had concerns about his safety. This is in the middle of the day in a park in Marrickville.

I am cynical about statements on websites about inclusion, banners in parades and gay and lesbian liaison officers. There is nothing wrong with good intentions but actions are better. The NSW police have a beat policy, which provides some guidelines to how beats are supposed to be policed. Police are only supposed to police beats if the boss tells them to. In this case, the police were in plain clothes and an unmarked car. The policy clearly states that operations should be conducted in uniform and marked cars. The policy doesn’t say that the law relating to offensive behaviour shouldn’t be enforced. My advice is stick to the saunas. At this time of year, they’re warmer and always safer. View article

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ACON seeks meeting with police over beats

SX • November 16, 2006

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Letters • ‘Negative thoughts’ and ‘Dirty business’

SX • November 16, 2006

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Police converge on beats, not on streets

SX • November 9, 2006

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Letters – ‘No excuse for beats’ and ‘Straight Perverts’

SX • November 9, 2006

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Police and AVP announce new liaison

SX • November 2, 2006

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Gay men’s cruising sites under spotlight

SX • November 2, 2006

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