Published in City Hub, 28 April 2016
“Don’t just take pictures, come and join us!” protesters implored to onlookers as the ‘Keep Newtown Weird & Safe’ Reclaim the Streets rally marched down King Street on a dark Saturday afternoon. A mix of beards, dresses and dreadlocks paraded as mobile speakers blasting tunes kept the rally in step.
The rally was a retaliation to the bashing Isaac Keatinge suffered whilst wearing a dress and makeup whilst on the street in Newtown. The incident resulted in fifteen stitches in his head.
Many believe that the bashing is symptomatic of a wider issue invading the Newtown community. Spokesperson from Reclaim the Streets James Loch draws a connection between Sydney’s lockout laws and the rise in homophobic violence.
“Half of the issue is the lockout laws have made Newtown into the ideal party destination for violent outsiders and it’s clashing with the area’s LGBTI community,” Loch said.
Newtown MP Jenny Leong says that rallies like Keep Newtown Weird & Safe are a sign of solidarity from the community.
“I know the local community has been shocked and saddened by the recent attack. People who live in our local area feel strongly about keeping our local suburbs safe and welcoming spaces. It is fantastic to see initiatives like the Reclaim the Streets rally to keep Newtown ‘Weird & Safe’. Events like that show that our community stands together against transphobia, homophobia, and any kind of violence,” Leong said.