‘Vile’: Rainbow tree vandalised with cross

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An iconic “rainbow pride tree” at a golf club in Sydney’s inner west – 500m from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s former home – has been vandalised with white paint and a cross in a “vile, homophobic” attack.

High school teacher Justin Bradley, 31, painted the tree at Marrickville Golf Club with his father, Steve Husband, 64, in mid-January, as part of a tradition that started three years ago.

Mr Husband sits on the board of the golf club, which has a large LGBTQ+ membership, and this year invited his son to help paint the rainbow ahead of Sydney’s WorldPride event.

The hollowed out tree has been painted with pride colours for the past three years. Picture: InstagramThe hollowed out tree has been painted with pride colours for the past three years. Picture: Instagram

“Eleven cans of spray paint: $142.25,” Mr Bradley wrote on Instagram at the time.

“Spending the afternoon with your dad painting the pride flag on a tree at your local golf club: PRICELESS.”

But in an Instagram post this week, Mr Bradley revealed the tree had been “vandalised by some absolutely despicable, homophobic, hate-filled, vile individual”, sharing a photo of the tree with white paint covering the flag and with a cross underneath.

“At about 9 o’clock this morning my dad sent me a picture of the rainbow pride tree that he and I painted a few weeks ago that had been vandalised,” he said in a video.

“I felt sick to my stomach. This was clearly a vile act of vandalism perpetrated by some fool in the community whose only intention is to be aggressive, choose violence and to intimidate. I’d never felt like this before in my own community. I didn’t think it was something that would happen in the inner west.”

Teacher Justin Bradley. Picture: InstagramTeacher Justin Bradley. Picture: Instagram

Mr Bradley told news.com.au the tree had been vandalised at some point between 9pm on Tuesday and 6am on Wednesday.

“My initial response was that fight or flight response – the adrenaline hit and I felt sick to my stomach,” he said.

“Just off the back of such celebration over the Mardi Gras weekend … that something like this could have happened in the inner west which is one of the most progressive LGBTQ communities in Sydney.”

But he said his dad had assured him that it was “just one person out of tens of thousands who’ve seen this tree” over the years, and “we’ll paint it again”.

In response, Mr Bradley and the Marrickville Golf Club have announced an event at 4pm on Friday dubbed “Paint with Pride: Reclaim the Rainbow”, inviting the community to come and help repaint the tree.

‘This was clearly a vile act of vandalism.’ Picture: Instagram‘This was clearly a vile act of vandalism.’ Picture: Instagram

Despite the short turnaround, he is hoping for a decent turnout. He has written to invite local politicians Jenny Leong and Jo Haylen, as well as the Prime Minister.

“His house is about 500m away, this is right under Albo’s nose,” Mr Bradley said.

He said the incident of vandalism had “stoked so much of a response” leading to a “net increase of positivity and love and inclusivity [that has] galvanised the community”.

“We wanted to repaint the tree as immediately as possible so it’s not there as a beacon of intimidation and vandalism,” he said.

It comes after a series of vandalism incidents around WorldPride.

More Coverage

Controversial Sydney pride mural vandalised‘Going to hell’: Ugly church rainbow clash

Last week a mural in Sydney’s CBD depicting a “furry” man in leather-bondage with a teddy bear head was defaced after the controversial artwork attracted criticism online.

And the Pitt Street Uniting Church was also targeted for painting its steps in rainbow colours.

Read related topics:Anthony AlbaneseSydney

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