Beats are a toilet or park where men gather to have consensual, casual sex.
Beats used to be a place where men could meet before gay pride movements won the right to meet in pubs and clubs. Now, beat users are often men exploring their sexuality and those in the process of coming out.
Police presence at a large NSW beat has increased significantly over the last two months.
Beat users have reported hourly patrols by several police vehicles, covert patrols on foot, the wrongful "banning" people from the area for 28 days, derogatory personal comments, threats to use pepper spray, use of unnecessary force, arrest without charge and other homophobic behaviour.
One Sydney beat user, "Peter", told Radio 2SER on November 11: "The police arrested me one night without charge. They threatened me with pepper spray, handcuffed me, and claimed I was there for sex.
"They wouldn't listen when I repeatedly tried to tell them I was there to relax. I was afraid of them, and they made a few smart-arse and personal insults before letting me go."
Conversely, in Amsterdam, police are pushing to have beat sex decriminalised. An article in Dutch News Agency, NIS News Bulletin, on August 3 noted that the police's National Diversity Expertise Centre (LECD) wants sex allowed in all public parks in the Netherlands.
In a letter to city administrators, LECD says that by regulating sex in public, the safety of homosexuals from "queer-bashers" can be better guaranteed.
Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) is campaigning to end harassment of men in Sydney beats and will provide online information for beat users to become better informed of their rights when approached by police.
CAAH is encouraging men to report any instances of police intimidation at beats to CAAH and to lodge a complaint with the NSW ombudsperson and the Anti-Discrimination Board.
CAAH will also host a series of peaceful gatherings every Saturday night at the AIDS Memorial Grove in Sydney Park to maintain a watch over police activity and inform people of their rights.
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