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Marks Park Memorial a Monument to Diversity

By Siriol Dafydd on November 27, 2018 in News

Scene of the crimes, by Lars Rasmussen

Marks Park has officially been endorsed by Waverley Council as the site for the Bondi Memorial Project. This allows for commissioning of a public artwork to serve as a memorial to the men who were viciously assaulted and murdered in homophobic attacks in Sydney over multiple decades.

This is a tremendous result after years of campaigning from New South Wales based LGBTI sexual and mental health organisation, ACON. Working in partnership with Waverley Council since 2015, ACON has been instrumental in finding appropriate means of honouring and remembering the victims of the violent attacks.

“ACON has been working with a range of community partners, advocates and the broader LGBTI community on a range of responses to address the painful legacy left behind by the wave of anti-gay violence that swept through Sydney in the 1970s to the 1990s,” ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said in a media statement.

“This grief and trauma continues to impact on our community’s health and wellbeing today.”

The endorsement of the park as the official site for the memorial was announced as an official parliamentary inquiry into historical gay and transgender crimes in Australia began. The inquiry has also been something that ACON has campaigned for over many years and will shine a further light on the horrific events that took place.

Marks Park was chosen for the memorial as it was the site of many of the attacks and murders that took place along the coastal walk from Bondi to Tamarama.

“Council’s process around commissioning an artist is yet to begin, but certainly whatever design is chosen will be a respectful reminder to these wonderful men and a place where we can pay our respects to the victims, their families, friends and the LGBTI community,” Waverley Mayor John Wakefield told The Beast.

There is no set date for the unveiling of the memorial but the entire process, including community consultation, is expected to take a year or so to complete.

“I expect that the memorial will be a place for quiet reflection as wellas celebration,” Cr Wakefield said. “It’ll remind us of the past and how we have progressed as an inclusive society. It will remind us of the importance of valuing and celebrating diversity in our community.”

Waverley Council has committed $100,000 from its 2018/19 Capital Works Program and a further $64,000 from Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg will also go towards the project.

This philanthropic donation was made under the terms of the couple’s settlement with Vistaprint. After they were sent religious pamphlets about temptation and sin instead of the wedding programs they had ordered, the couple filed a lawsuit, which resulted in an official apology and a direct contribution to an Australian LGBTI organisation of their choosing.

“We chose the Bondi Memorial Project for its purpose of shining a light on the impacts of bigotry, prejudice and discrimination, and the importance of valuing diversity in the community,” Mr Borg said in a statement. “We’re proud to be part of this important project.”

“We always wanted to use our experience as an opportunity to create greater understanding and acceptance of the LGBTI community,” Mr Heasley added.

“We hope that this contribution will assist in the creation of a monument that commemorates the past and stands for healing, unity, progress and inclusion.”

Further donations by the public are welcomed and community consultation will continue during the project’s commissioning process. For more details, head to the Waverley Council website.

Despite recent progress, we still have a long way to go in terms of replacing hate and bigotry with understanding and acceptance, but this memorial is certainly a step in the right direction. And with such wonderful and widespread support within the community, this project will help the growing momentum towards healing and justice for the victims of senseless violence and hateful discrimination.