Information contained on this page is provided in the interest of personal safety but in no way condones unlawful behaviour
BEATS - WHAT ARE THEY
Beats are public places such as parks, beaches and toilets where men who have sex with men (MSM) go both for sex and also for some as a point of social interaction and contact.
Beats are not exclusive to men who have sex with men as areas such as parks and car parking areas often act as a point of congregation, social interaction and sex for heterosexual or 'straight' couples. However, these beats are far less likely to gain the same level of intense negative media coverage and police attention that 'gay' beats attract.
WHO GOES TO BEATS
MSM - men who have sex with men: often these men do not identify in any way with being gay or bisexual; they simply see themselves as 'straight' men who also like to have sex with men; they can also be married men who present primarily in their social lives as 'straight'
Gay men - men who are same sex attracted and identify to at least themselves that they are gay but may not necessarily be 'out' or open about their sexual preferences to anyone or may only be 'out' to a very select group of friends
Bisexual men - men who may identify to most people as 'straight' but also like to have sex with other men
Gay curious men - men who are curious or inquisitive about men who are sexually attracted to other men but do not yet identify as bisexual or gay
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE USE BEATS
There are a variety of reasons why men may use a beat:
· To have anonymous sex - especially if they are not 'out' to anyone or have just commenced to explore their sexuality
· MSM and married men who do not identify as gay and use beats as their sexual contact point
· A point of contact for social interaction - especially for MSM and men who do not identify as gay or bisexual
· A point of social interaction and contact for gay and bisexual men, especially in regional and rural areas, where there are no specific gay venues to socialise. Often beats can become points of congregation simply for social interaction and sexual activity can become a secondary consideration.
· The excitement of anonymous sex especially with a level of risk because the sexual act is in a public area and there is a risk of being discovered.
· Some people will meet other MSM at beats and then go home to have sex
IS IT ILLEGAL TO USE A BEAT FOR SEX
The simple answer is YES! Sex in a public place is unlawful.
Having sex in a public place is illegal or offensive behaviour and you risk being arrested and charged by the Police with all the potential embarrassment that could flow from Police charges. However, just being at a beat is not illegal. Remember, if the beat is in parkland there may be other restrictions, such as not going onto plant regeneration areas, that if disobeyed may result in Council fines.
If you are seated in your car at a public car parking area at a beat Police may ask you for your Driver's License. If the keys to your car are in the ignition, even if the car is not running, the Police are also entitled to breathalyse you. Remember, Police are entitled to ask for your name, address and date of birth at a beat or any place where Police are making inquiries.
Be polite and respectful to Police if they question you and if the ask you to 'move along' you should leave the area.
The only public place you can lawfully have sex in is Sex On Premises Venues (SOPV) which have legal approval to operate, such as some gay saunas and adult sex shops. The premises are open to the public, hence public places, but approved for sexual activity between consenting adults.
Entrapment involves a Police officer pretending to be cruising or looking for sex. When a victim responds to a sexual advance they are arrested or detained.
Entrapment is against NSW Police policy! Evidence obtained through entrapment cannot be used in court.
If you believe you have been entrapped or inappropriately treated by Police at a beat you should seek legal advice or call the Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project.
SAFETY AT BEATS
Many beat users are at a beat because it provides them with the opportunity to have anonymous sex or is the only place they can meet other MSM. This need for anonymity can also attract homophobic violence because the attackers rely on the beat user not wanting to be identified and thus not reporting the violence.
There are some simple steps that may reduce the chances of you experience homophobic violence at a beat:
· Check the area out when you first arrive and before you go into the beat area - if there are groups of people or individuals congregated that do not look like beat users leave the area.
· Stay alert at all times to the environment around you - do you know the way to exit the beat quickly in an emergency?
· Wear clothes and joggers that allow you to easily run if you need to flee the area quickly
· Do not take valuables, such as a wallet, money and identification with your home address into the beat area
· Do not use headphones - you cannot hear someone coming up behind you.
· Remember that beats are public places so there is always a chance that someone else in the area is not a beat user. Do not make sexual advances to anyone unless you are sure they are also a beat user.
· If you see someone being harassed help them or call the Police. Write the car registration number down if they are driving a car.
· If you know of a specific danger at a beat warn other beat users immediately
- Some people use adult (over 18 years of age) websites like SQUIRT to locate beats and also to report dangers and concerns for other beat uses. REMEMBER Police, Local Council staff and security guards at shopping centres also read the comments on these sites! So think carefully if you intend to post information.
REPORTING BEAT VIOLENCE AND HARRASSMENT
The Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project (AVP) offers a range of services to individuals and to the gay and lesbian community in general. The AVP is a NSW-wide project and provides a variety of services including:
· The AVP Report-Line (9206 2116 or 1800 063 060). By encouraging victims of anti-lesbian and gay violence or abuse to make a report to the AVP Report-Line they can monitor and map hate crimes. The AVP use this information to develop safety strategies and to advocate for change to make the community safer.
· Referral and support. Victims of homophobic abuse or violence can call the AVP to get information about other services and details of where to get help.
· Information. Information and resources on safety for members of the lesbian and gay communities.
· Advocacy. The AVP works with a range of government agencies, community organisations and the wider community on strategies aimed at reducing violence. The AVP sits on a range of committees and ensures the issue of homophobic violence and abuse is raised. Some of the committees include; the NSW Attorney General's Department Community Advisory Group; City of Sydney Council's Community Safety Committee; the Same Sex Domestic Violence Working Group; the Anti-Homophobia in Schools Working Group.
A NSW website dedicated to taking action against homophobia.
You can also report incidents of HOMOPHOBIC VIOLENCE and this website has a special section dedicated to homophobia at local ILLAWARRA beats including reporting harrassment by law enforcement.
To check out issues in the Illawarra and to also REPORT homophobic attacks or harrassment at local Illawarra beats go to: Illawarra Beats Project
NSW/ACT/VIC/NT/WA: 16 years of age
SA/TAS: 17 years of age
QLD: 16 years (vaginal sex), 18 years of age anal sexPlease see the following link for further information: AFAO - AGE OF CONSENT INFORMATION
A FINAL NOTE OF WARNING
Beat users should always remember that beats are a PUBLIC place which means:
· There is a strong likelihood that non-beat users may also be in the area and may be offended or feel very uncomfortable seeing anyone, 'gay' or 'straight' having sex in public so be very discreet and respectful of others. In reality, sex in public places, 'gay' or 'straight' occurs often and in lots of places but usually comes to negative attention, publicity and Police interest through people not being discreet about what they are doing and not being mindful that others may not want to see you having sex.
· Sex in a public place is ILLEGAL and you risk being arrested.