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Jack Mould says Queer Safety on public transport will be an important tool for tackling climate change.

They say the gays lead the way. If the queer community embrace a trend, it will soon become mainstream. So what better community of primarily urban dwellers for the government to target for increasing public transport use.

That’s what I thought until I heard stories like this one.

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“It was 7pm. I had just finished my day job in the city and was getting on the bus to go home. I sat in my normal seat. Not too close to the back, right in the middle, near the exit door. On the bus with me was an elderly woman, a few men dotted around and a group of young teens.

“The group of teens were loud and disruptive. It didn’t take long before their attention drew towards me. They started off by throwing fries at me. Then followed the offensive slurs. No one said anything, and no one tried to stop them.

“I started to feel more and more unsafe. I got up and moved to the front to try and remove myself from the situation. They followed and joined me at the front, surrounding me.

“I froze. I wasn’t sure what would happen next, would they follow me off the bus and beat me up? Luckily we came to their stop. They left.

“Once I got home, I went straight to my room and cried. Not because of what had happened, but because I knew I would face this again tomorrow.

“Every time I get on public transport, I get some sort of hate towards me because I’m queer. I’m terrified for the time that it does not end on the bus.”

That was the experience of a non-binary friend of mine, and it echoes the experiences of many queer public transport users that I know.

It is important now more than ever that we get people using public transport. But how can we expect people to use public transport when they do not feel safe doing so.

Recent statistics highlight that one in three New Zealanders do not feel safe using public transport. This is by no means just a Kiwi problem. Overseas communities have faced similar levels of fear experienced by passengers and combatted this with a greater staff presence and bus stations and more CCTV cameras at unmanned stops.

A report from Land Transport New Zealand found that if similar measures of security were put in place in Aotearoa’s cities, we would likely increase by 40% more than they currently do, concluding that “a sizable portion of public transport users are discouraged by their personal security concern”

How clearer could it be we need to make our public transport safer especially for our rainbow Whānau? With congested roads in cities like Auckland, and the need to lower our emissions, let’s all work together to make our public transport a safe space and do our bit to tackle climate change.

Jack Mould.

Jack Mould (they/them) Is based in Otautahi and volunteers for the Christchurch Pride and is Chair of Rainbow Labour Christchurch. They have political aspirations inspired by creating a truly rainbow-inclusive Aotearoa. 

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