Toll of abuse starts to rise

KNOCKED DOWN: A 20-year-old man assaulted in Ballarat says the LGBTQI community is under pressure as the same-sex marriage postal vote continues. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric
KNOCKED DOWN: A 20-year-old man assaulted in Ballarat says the LGBTQI community is under pressure as the same-sex marriage postal vote continues. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

A man who was bashed while walking in Ballarat says he was the victim of a homophobic assault.

The 20-year-old received online threats and was verbally abused with homophobic slurs at the weekend.

He was then walking past Pennyweight Park on York Street when he was attacked at 11.30am on Monday.

A man with a dark hoodie pulled down over his head approached him, before punching him in the chest area.

The victim fell to the ground and was kicked before the man ran away down the street.

It followed the abuse on Friday night and on Saturday, but it was not clear if this was connected to the assault.

The 20-year-old said he was left him fearing for his safety following the incident.

“I went to move out of his way and he moved in front of me, then gave me a cheap shot to the chest, it was a punch that wounded me,” he said.

“People will be feeling unsafe to walk around town because of the vote no campaign going around.

“Some people I know have walked past people and gotten homophobic slurs.”

People will be feeling unsafe to walk around town because of the vote no campaign going around. Some people I know have walked past people and gotten homophobic slurs.

Assault victim

Ballarat Pride Hub’s Joel Kakouris said there was a rising toll of verbal abuse against LGBTQI community members.

“A lot of people can’t believe it is still happening – the only thing we can do is just roll with it,” he said.

“Physical abuse is easily prosecuted because there is damage to the person, but not verbal abuse.

“We have even had messages from neo-Nazi groups saying, ‘you people are disgusting’.”

A state government package to ramp up mental health services for LGBTQI people during the postal vote on same-sex marriage was also announced in September.

The government has pledged $500,000 to support the Victorian Aids Council and Drummond Street Services.

Another $100,000 was delivered under the HEY grants scheme to fund mental health promotion and community engagement activities for LGBTI people aged 14-25.