City News

Grassroots campaign pushes City of Sydney to save Oxford Street’s LGBT identity

Photo: Ann-marie Calilhanna.

By DOUGLAS MAGALETTI

The City of Sydney has moved one step closer to protecting Oxford Street’s LGBTQI cultural and historical identity.

On Monday, April 4, the City of Sydney held a committee meeting with community stakeholders to discuss the framework for the long-sought protection of Oxford Street’s LGBTQI identity, culture, and history.

Under the Oxford Street LGBTIQA+ Social and Cultural Place Strategy and following months of community consultation and pressure from the Star Observer, the City of Sydney has released a framework to recognise the importance of the street to the LGBTQI community. It will also identify places of LGBTQI significance while strengthening the street’s LGBTQI cultural identity.

Takes Steps To Protect the LGBTQI Identity of Oxford Street

The framework includes protections for LGBTQI heritage items, highlighting LGBTQI history and culture, more LGBTQI artwork and rainbow crossings, protections for sex on premises venues, and incentives for LGBTQI employment and inclusion as well as the much talked about Pride Centre and museum.

The strategy also includes an “opt-in LGBTIQA+ Precinct Business Charter”. According to an exclusive given to The Sydney Morning Herald, the charter has “taken inspiration from London’s Soho.”

Map of the Oxford Street creative and cultural precinct in Sydney.

For years, Oxford Street has been plagued by high vacancies, aggressive vehicle traffic and the absence of a sustainable plan.

In October 2021, the City of Sydney asked for community feedback on a plan to revitalise the renowned LGBTQI strip.

The plan allows property developers to increase floor space and building height along Oxford Street if they dedicate at least 10 per cent to cultural and creative purposes. At the time, the plan did not specially protect the precinct’s LGBTQI+ identity.

A Move in the Right Direction

After Star Observer’s long campaign to ensure the preservation of the LGBTQI character of Oxford Street, including the organising of an LGBTQI Oxford Street Community Forum,  it appears the City of Sydney is moving in the right direction.

The draft Oxford Street LGBTIQA+ Social and Cultural Place Strategy will be on exhibition until May. During this time, the public is able to provide feedback.

Sydney would be the first city in Australia to implement policies that protect the historical and cultural identity of an LGBTQI precinct, joining New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and London.

As your community news source, we will keep you informed over the coming months of all developments.

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