Gay man reveals shocking police reaction to 1980s bashing

narrabeen beach nsw gay bashing
Photo: Nicolas Lannuzel/Flickr

Warning: distressing content

A gay man bashed in a horrific 1980s Sydney hate crime has alleged a police report at the time said he “deserved” the attack.

After murder charges in the 1988 death of Scott Johnson, Sydney man Martin Parker recalled his memories of his own vicious assault in northern Sydney with The Australian.


Parker said the vicious assault occurred in the northern Sydney beachside suburb of Narrabeen.

He met a man who pretended he was gay who beat him so badly his “jaw was hanging off”.

Parker later made it to a police station with injuries so severe, ER doctors assumed he had been in a high-speed car accident.

“I couldn’t believe how disfigured I was,” he said.

“I could grab hold of my upper jaw and actually pull it out of my mouth.

“The guy I had met near the toilet said he had an apartment in Manly so we decided to go back to his place.

“But when I turned around to walk towards the car, he hit me in the back of the head and knocked me to the ground.

“He smashed my face six or seven times.”

Parker said he urged police to pursue the man responsible. Six weeks later, police told him there was no record of the incident.

He later discovered two police officers had written a brief report on the night of the attack.

However, Parker claimed it only included “comedy notes” about how he’d “deserved” the bashing because he was at a so-called gay beat.

‘Prevailing indifference’ to gay hate crimes

From the late 1970s through to the early 1990s, numerous gay men disappeared or were murdered in NSW. Many of the crimes occurred in coastal parks across Sydney.


Many others were also hospitalised after gangs targeted them at the time.

Last year, a NSW parliamentary inquiry into gay hate crime found a “prevailing acceptance of and indifference” to violence against gay men in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Those “pervasive prejudices” also existed within NSW Police and led to failures of justice for many victims, the inquiry found.

Scott Johnson was among them. An initial inquest initially ruled the American national’s death a suicide.

However on May 12, police arrested Sydney man Scott Price and charged him with Johnson’s murder.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said victims were “let down by police and the community” and had apologised to Scott Johnson’s family.

He hoped the arrest would encourage people with information on other unsolved cases to come forward.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers confidentially on 1800 333 000 or online.

If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

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