Safety in the ‘Shwa: the perceptions of the community

Is The ‘Shwa safe for LGBTQ members?

The Durham LGBTQ Communities Involved Committee asked both those who identify as LGBTQ and straight men and women this in a survey.

Members of the LGBTQ community came forward after experiencing verbal homophobia and one incident of property damage in a hate-related crime, which initiated the survey.

“The results of the survey showed that the feeling of those that identified as LGBTQ and the general public were about the same,” said Mark Hammann, co-chair of the Durham LGBTQ Communities Involved Committee. Overall, the perception is that downtown Oshawa is safe.

Hammann said he was surprised to see that of the 262 respondents, 21.5 per cent identify as being LGBTQ in the survey.

“That’s high because the considered average is about 10 to 15 per cent of the population,” Hammann said.

Though many felt downtown Oshawa is safe, more women cited it as being unsafe than men, with 72.1 per cent of women saying they felt safe compared to to the 80 per cent of men.

Another trend was time of day, as more people said it was more unsafe at night than in the day time.

“Is this standard across the board for other communities or is this unique to Oshawa?” Hammann asked.

Hammann says the survey brought up more questions that will need more research.

From poorly lit areas and property owners not taking care of their buildings, questions remain about how to improve the downtown, he said.

The next step, according to Hammann, is to create more safety for LGBTQ members downtown, including but not limited to, training business owners in the downtown core.

The committee held an event January 19th, at the Arts Resource Centre in Downtown Oshawa, to speak to the community about the survey results, but no members of the community showed up

Hammann said that the committee is not discouraged at the turnout.

“My take is that people were pleased with the results of the survey and therefore did not attend,” said Hammann.

With Hammann’s questions answered, he says the committee is willing to work with any other community groups to conduct similar surveys.

The report has been made available to anyone who wants it, and councillors and the mayor are aware of this study, Hammann said.

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Taylor Waines is a second-year journalism student at Durham College. When it comes to writing and reporting, she enjoys covering concerts, health concerns and student issues. She likes to spend her spare time writing, and drawing. Taylor hopes to continue feature writing following graduation.