From the Executive Summary:
This report explores aspects of safety and hostility as perceived and experienced by participants at large-scale gay and lesbian events held in Australia. These public celebrations have considerable economic, social and cultural benefits and they contribute significantly to the creation of cosmopolitan imagery for the cities in which they are held. In particular, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) is internationally known as a major festival and attracts substantial numbers of both domestic and inbound tourists. The report examines the results of an internet-based questionnaire survey that sought information concerning participants’ perceptions and experiences of hostility, threats and violence before, during and after these events. Event organisers, police and public officials involved in planning and regulation generally stress the order and goodwill of these occasions. Nevertheless, this study suggests that:
- there is a steady undercurrent of hostility, abuse and unreported violent attacks at these events, particularly in the aftermath of the SGLMG parade;
- survey participants felt notably unsafe or threatened in relation to post-event interactions at the SGLMG parade;
- hostility, abuse and attacks reflect sexual prejudice as well as more general large night-time event safety issues that include finding an optimal level of crowd supervision and surveillance, mass discomfort, collective intoxication, drug use and late-night transport;
- material from interviews with general crowd members reflects ambivalent attitudes towards Mardi Gras; and
- though event planning and policing have done much to minimise serious violence in the immediate event context, there could be further direct consideration of the concerns and suggestions of event participants of the sort that are raised in this report.