It's the gay capital of Australia and hosts hundreds of thousands of revelers at an annual Mardi Gras parade that celebrates homosexuality. However, a government study released on Tuesday says many of Sydney's gays are victims of violence and abuse, a finding that challenges the city's image as a tolerant community. Eighty-five percent of more than 600 gay men and lesbians interviewed for the study
said they had experienced some form of abuse because of their sexuality. About 56% said they had been subjected to harassment or violence during the year prior to the survey, which was conducted for the New South Wales state attorney general's department between May and August. Abuse took the form of spitting, offensive gestures, stalking, and threats. Approximately half said they'd been physically assaulted with or without a weapon, including sexual assault.