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Such incidents have prompted some to reason that it would be safer for everyone if beats were simply shut down.Morgan says the argument is “stupid and misplaced”, in part because it absolves police of their responsibility to ensure the safety of all citizens.They think it’s a hangover from when we were illegal …so within the community its become a sort of shame…Indeed, greater acceptance of gay relationships and the decriminalisation of homos-xual activity mean men many gay and bis-xual men have abandoned beats for the safety and convenience of s-x-on-premises venues and online services like Gaydar.This trend has caused some in the LGBTI community to argue that beats rightly belong in the dark and distant past.go to the police than if they attacked a couple walking down Oxford Street or in Paddington [in Sydney] … Stop bashers.” But when the Beat Project began a campaign calling on police to do just that — to police hate crime rather than beat users — the reaction from the LGBTI community was not what they expected.“Instead of actually addressing the issue of police harassment at beats, they [the LGBTI press] went in and attacked [the project],” Capuano says.
simply because men are in an area that is a ‘known’ beat,” he says.
It reinforces an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality which isn’t helpful to either side.” Morgan says police harassment at beats can include “outright physical abuse”, bribery or extortion: “It speaks to corruption within the police force.
I know of circumstances where police at beats have told beat users: ‘Well, you give me something — usually money, but sometimes it’s even sex — and we won’t report you. We won’t hassle you in any way’.” In reality, Morgan says, it is difficult for police to convict a person for beat use — so much so that Victorian police, discouraged by failed prosecutions, have virtually given up charging men ‘caught’ at beats.
“It can lead to more internalised homophobia; in other words, feelings within beat users that they are the scum of the earth, that they deserve this sort of thing,” he says.
“Also, it makes beat users and sections of the GLBTI community itself very hostile to police generally.A core network of users supported by grassroots lobby group Community Action Against Homophobia now hosts regular Saturday night picnics to monitor police activity, raise awareness of the issue and inform beat users about their rights and responsibilities.