Community defends Colac’s reputation
COMMUNITY leaders have rejected claims Colac is a homophobic town.
Top figures in Colac’s sporting and education realms, and Colac Otway Shire mayor Brian Crook have defended the city’s reputation after 10 to 20 youths hurled homophobic abuse at comedian Joel Creasey as he left a Colac anti-discrimination event.
Comments telling people to avoid Colac spread on social networking site Twitter after the abuse, but Cr Crook said the bad reputation was undeserved.
“It involved a very small number of people and it’s been dealt with,” he said.
“In any community, you’ll always have a very small percentage of people who will conduct themselves in an unfortunate way, but it’s way over the top to be making any deductions from that, that Colac is a homophobic town.
“That sort of label is to be refuted on behalf of all the young people in the community.”
Cr Crook, who was on ABC radio defending Colac yesterday, said any kind of discrimination was “not on”.
He said people should support youth advocates such as Colac Area Health’s Emma Warton in their efforts to promote positive messages.
Colac District Football League president Peter Lucas said he had never heard of any homophobic comments directed towards players, umpires or other officials.
“And I’d think the sporting community would be reflective of the general community,” Mr Lucas said.
“We have codes of conducts that everyone’s required to adhere to and to the large part, they are adhered to,” he said.
“My personal opinion is I’ve never felt Colac to have a more homophobic attitude than any other rural country Victorian town.”
Trinity College principal Tim O’Farrell said there was “no place in society” for prejudice.
“All people should be respected for who they are and society has an obligation to build the dignity of all at all times,” he said.
“It is a shame that at times some individuals do not respect others as they should.”
Creasey said his friends and Twitter followers had been supportive since the incident, which happened after he helped launch Colac anti-discrimination group Dynamic.
“Ninety-five per cent of the people at the event were supportive,” he said.
“The reaction I’ve had from people in Colac has been very lovely and really supportive, and on Twitter, quite a few people have said to me that we do have a problem.”
Creasey said he hoped the incident would help raise awareness of Dynamic’s cause.
“Hopefully it’ll inspire people to change – it’s so easy to turn a blind eye and let this abuse fly under the radar,” he said.