A new precinct pride business charter has been established to ensure Sydney’s Oxford Street retains its queer character and its rich history continues to be celebrated for years to come.
Last night Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore and Alex Greenwich MP came together with representatives from the Oxford Street Pride Steering Committee, local businesses and community members to officially launch the Oxford Street precinct business pride charter.
The charter and its outcomes aim to increase awareness of issues of importance to the community and ensure the precinct is identifiable as a haven for LGBTIQA+ people.
“We have worked closely with the Oxford Street Precinct Pride Steering Committee to develop this new charter that will serve to safeguard the identity and culture of the precinct,” said Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore.
“Oxford Street is unique to Sydney and has long been recognised as the heart of Sydney’s LGBTIQA+ culture and communities.”
“In order to maintain this status, the charter has been developed as a united voice against homophobia and transphobia – a grassroots, community approach to keeping the precinct safe and inclusive.”
“It outlines the expectations of the communities, to current and future operators, that Oxford Street should remain lively, diverse and inclusive,” said the Lord Mayor.
Shane Sturgiss, CEO BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation, said the charter will be an important platform that will help bring urgent attention to the rise in attacks on LGBTIQA+ people and racial profiling of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“After the glamour and excitement of WorldPride coming to Sydney, the fallout and decline in acceptance is heartbreaking,” said Mr Sturgiss.
“As a community we need to ensure that the same WorldPride feeling of excitement and acceptance is felt every day of the year – we start by building safe spaces and we don’t stop until we have created safe communities.”
“A small gesture from businesses in this precinct can have a significant effect on people’s lives, acknowledge their worth, create a feeling of safety and bring community together,” said Mr Sturgiss.
Richie Haines, COO of Universal Hotels and Chair of the Surry Hills Liquor Accord, added: “As a community we must continue to work hard to keep our queer spaces safe, visible and celebrated. This can’t be achieved by any one person or organisation,” he said.
“The pride business charter is a vital tool to bring the community together, to celebrate a shared commitment to these ideals, and to take practical steps to preserve our precinct.”
“For me, it’s important to be a member to show this commitment to staff, to customers, to other businesses, and to the LGBTQIA+ communities more broadly. I encourage all businesses in the area to deeply consider the charter’s commitments, how they can be applied in their business, and to join us,” said Mr Haines.
Membership of the charter is open to all businesses, property owners, arts and community organisations, and educational institutions operating in and servicing the Oxford Street precinct.
The charter is an outcome from the City of Sydney’s Oxford Street LGBTIQA+ social and cultural place strategy adopted by Council in October 2022.
The strategy was developed to build on Oxford Street’s reputation as an iconic precinct with activities both day and night, with thriving businesses, creative industries and culture.
The first of its kind in Australia, the strategy is one of only a handful in the world. It seeks to recognise historic LGBTIQA+ places and spaces, increase visibility and reflect LGBTIQA+ communities, sustain the local character of Oxford Street, increase LGBTIQA+ cultural spaces, and ensure the local community is safe and supported.
For more information and to register interest in the charter, visit: www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au for details.
Image: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade – courtesy of City of Sydney