A recent Facebook post has called into question the safety and integrity of the Court as a LGBTQ+ friendly venue, and sparked an online petition urging the Court to either remove its LBGTQ+ branding or to make changes to ensure it becomes the safe space it once was. The Court has responded, agreeing to implement several strategies to stamp out abusive and bigoted behaviour, such as RSA officers (Rainbows, Safety and Attitude), a highly visible code of conduct, and increased security. The full response to the petition can be found on their Facebook page.
The venue recently underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation, and last year was recognised for their outstanding training of staff and recent renovations by the WA Hospitality Awards for Excellence. Since then it’s become one of the most popular venues in Perth, however, the increase in patrons from outside the community has resulted in many regulars within the LGBTQ+ community feeling unsafe and unwelcome.
In a city with very few LGBTQ+ friendly venues, the Court, along with Connections, was a place that many, myself included, felt accepted in. One in which we could express ourselves without the fear of homophobic and transphobic abuse and violence. Reading the Facebook comments and reviews on google (The Court doesn’t have a review option on Facebook), patrons have complained about homophobic language, being mocked and laughed at by straight patrons, and being harassed and touched inappropriately. It’s become apparent the Court is no longer the safe venue it once was.
Queerness isn’t a fun exhibition that people can visit on their Saturday nights and ignore when it’s not a party. And with countless pubs, clubs and events catered towards the heterosexual lifestyle I’m not sure why people with no ties to the community fill the need to frequent the few LGBTQ+ spaces that exist.
The importance of LGBTQ+ safe and inclusive venues shouldn’t have to be explained, and yes, anyone should be able to enter a club and have a good time. But for many within the community the Court was one of the first places they felt they could truly express themselves. To see that no longer be the case due to the venue owners wanting to maximise profits is shameful.
The Court has a responsibility to do better and provide a safe, inclusive and accepting venue for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s created a venue that people want to visit regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity, but with increased revenue and attendance comes the need to further commit to the safety and security of the community. The Court’s quick response to the petition shows that they are willing to listen, but the true test is how the proposed strategies are enacted, and what effects they have. If the Court wants to become like any other club in Perth that’s their prerogative, but they can’t do it whilst hiding behind a rainbow flag.
Words by Libby Robbins Bevis
Libby is tired and just hoping to survive her last semester of Uni.