LGBTIQA+ takes pride of place in Oxford Street revamp

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For the first time in Australia, LGBTIQA+ community history, culture and character will be preserved and protected under a new strategy unveiled for Sydney’s Oxford Street.

The City of Sydney draft LGBTIQA+ social and cultural place strategy will promote inclusive businesses, fund new public artworks and support establishing a pride museum around the famed retail and entertainment strip.

Over the past 12 months, the City of Sydney has consulted widely on ways to revitalise Oxford Street. Overwhelmingly, people called for Oxford Street to remain the focal point for Sydney’s LGBTIQA+ communities and culture.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said Oxford Street’s LGBTIQA+ identity will be prioritised and protected under the new strategy.

“We love Oxford Street. It’s one of our greatest and most-loved streets and we're committed to building on its reputation as an iconic gay and lesbian and creative precinct, buzzing with activity day and night,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“Over the course of our consultation for new planning controls for the area, we heard loud and clear that you want the area’s LGBTIQA+ character protected and enhanced.

“That’s why we have developed this LGBTIQA+ Cultural and Social Place Strategy for Oxford Street. The strategy is one of only a handful in the world to explore ways to protect and preserve LGBTIQA+ culture and communities, and the first in its kind in Australia – reflecting the importance of this precinct and local LGBTIQ+ community to Australia’s past and future.

“The strategy identifies important places and sets out opportunities for the City of Sydney, community organisations and the private sector to strengthen, support and promote the street’s LGBTIQA+ cultural identity and importance.

“Oxford Street has long been recognised as the home of Sydney’s LGBTIQA+ communities and those communities have informed and driven this strategy.

“We want to support businesses to keep Oxford Street a global beacon for pride, diversity and inclusion, and we want to see LGBTIQA+ operators leading the charge of new cultural spaces in the precinct.

“In February 2023, Sydney will host WorldPride 2023. It promises to be one of the largest events in Sydney since the 2000 Olympics and presents the perfect opportunity to bring this place strategy to life.

“This Strategy, together with new planning controls, will help us deliver more cultural spaces in the precinct – galleries, space for artists, theatres, restaurants and nightclubs – a 24-hour precinct that has more inclusive and diverse cultural offerings that include the full spectrum of the LGBTIQA+ communities.

“Visibility is vital to create a proud, colourful and welcoming destination, which Oxford Street is already known for globally. We will also continue to address disadvantage and connect people with the services they need.

“The significance of Oxford Street for the LGBTIQA+ communities is interwoven with tens of thousands of years of cultural connection to place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This LGBTIQA+ place strategy will also prioritise opportunities to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and businesses.”

The City of Sydney has drawn on community consultation and feedback to develop five priority areas under the draft LGBTIQA+ social and cultural place strategy:

Recognise historic LGBTQIA+ places and spaces

The City of Sydney will review places of significance in the area and update the heritage inventories for important sites to reflect their social and cultural significance to the LGBTIQA+ communities.

The City of Sydney has acquired the archives of the Sydney Star Observer that includes a vast catalogue of photographs capturing the community over decades. Through this strategy the City of Sydney proposes to catalogue and make these photographs publicly available as a resource for heritage recognition, signs, hoardings artwork and public art.

Increase visibility and reflect the LGBTIQA+ communities

To ensure LGBTIQA+ culture and communities are visible and reflected across the precinct, public art, positive messaging, flags, banners and other creative concepts for public spaces will be explored.

The City of Sydney will look to add more rainbow crossings in the area, commission local artists to create street murals and explore opportunities for new public art projects that celebrate local LGBTIQA+ icons.

Sustain the local character of Oxford Street

Controls and guidelines for businesses will be introduced to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTIQA+ customers and communities are welcomed and respected in the area. A range of mandatory and voluntary guidelines will help maintain the local character and identity, create inclusive facilities and help attract more visitors to the area.

Increase LGBTIQA+ cultural spaces

The City of Sydney will support the opening of a pride centre or LGBTQIA+ museum and work with advocacy groups, including QTopia, and the state government to seek funding and find a suitable location.

The City of Sydney will bring together landholders, businesses and community groups to explore opportunities for cultural spaces and provide grants and funding to help establish new ventures in the precinct.

Ensure the local community is safe and supported

The City of Sydney will work with partners to improve access to relevant programs, services and safe spaces for young LGBTIQA+ people, transgender and gender diverse people and older and vulnerable members of the community and advocate for diverse housing and accommodation options for young LGBTIQA+ people in the area.

In the lead up to WorldPride 2023, an Oxford Street precinct safety plan will be developed in collaboration with NSW Police and Surry Hills local area command to increase awareness of safety issues for LGBTIQA+ people and improve safety in the area day and night

Following council endorsement of the strategy, the City of Sydney will conduct surveys, community information forums and call for written submissions.

The full strategy is available on the City of Sydney website.

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