Defence Academy bans gay club visits
Thursday, 3 August 2006
The Australian Defence Force Academy has banned all its military personnel from attending Canberra's only gay nightclub, amid recent allegations of violence at the venue.
In a list of routine orders issued to personnel this week was a directive stating Cube Nightclub, in Petrie Plaza, Civic, was out of bounds.
The document, which was leaked to The Canberra Times, warns that those who breach the directive "may be subject to disciplinary and/or adverse administrative action".
It states the decision to impose a ban was made "in consideration of recent events alleging very serious assaults at the Cube nightclub".
The ban was also deemed appropriate "for the maintenance of discipline and the public's perception of ADFA".
The order was invoked under a defence instruction which grants commanding officers the authority to place civilian premises out of bounds or off-limits.
ADFA personnel wishing to set foot inside Cube can only do so with the direct authorisation of the Commandant, Brigadier Brian Dawson.
The move has sparked anger among gay personnel within ADFA, according to an insider.
"It would be a lot different if it was Sydney because they have a variety of gay venues," he said.
"But Cube is the only place of its kind in Canberra and it is a safe place - they are talking about one incident which happened outside the club."
While permission to attend Cube could be sought, it was unlikely personnel would resort to that, the insider said.
"You have cadets who have been in the defence force a year and this directive has come from a superior, so it's like the voice of God and they won't question it," he said.
"And asking permission to go to Cube would basically be stating I'm gay."
A stabbing outside Cube nightclub last month left a 23-year-old Canberra man fighting for his life.
The man remained in a critical condition in hospital yesterday.
He had been stabbed in the head and stomach during a brawl outside the nightspot.
Cube owner Maurizio Gianpier Rao, 32, of Kaleen, has been charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm.
Three teenagers have also been charged in relation to injuries said to have been sustained by Rao and another Cube staff member.
It is believed that an ADFA staff member who had been at the club at the time administered some first aid at the scene.
The ADFA ban on Cube took effect on July 31 - about two weeks after the stabbing.
An ADFA spokesperson said yesterday that the ban would be reviewed in three months.
Australian Defence Association executive director Neil James said he strongly supported the directive.
"The defence force needs to maintain discipline within its own ranks and also act as loco parentis for its members who are either not legal adult age or very young adults," he said. "It is like any family - parents suggesting to their children not to go to Cube, except this is legally enforceable."