Inquiry into decades of unsolved Sydney gay hate deaths

gay hate deaths Gay Sydney scott johnson murder

NSW will hold a special commission of inquiry into dozens of unsolved gay hate deaths. Supreme Court judge John Sackar will head an investigation into 88 unsolved murders committed against LGBTIQ+ people in Sydney from 1970 to 2010.

Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich said he previously lobbied three different premiers for an inquiry without success. However, current NSW premier Dominic Perrottet agreed to an inquiry. Alex Greenwich described the inquiry as long overdue.

“Forty years ago men like me were killed and no one cared, but now this government is taking this seriously with the long-overdue commission of inquiry.”

The premier said the inquiry could close one of the state’s darkest chapters.

“These unsolved deaths have left loving families without answers for too long.

“This inquiry provides an opportunity to focus further scrutiny on suspected hate crimes, and under the leadership of Justice Sackar will work to close a dark chapter of our state’s history that has left an indelible mark.”

Decades of violence

Sydney’s spate of brutal bashings and murders terrorised the LGBTIQ+ communities for decades. At the time, Police showed little to no interest in the crimes. Gangs targeted fay men in parks and beats. Numerous victims were found at the bottom of cliffs including American Scott Johnson, found dead at the base of a cliff near Manly’s North Head.

Police initially treated Scott Johnson’s death as suicide. Scott’s brother Steve campaigned for three decades for a second and then a third coronial inquest into his death. His persistence paid off when police finally arrested a man for Scott’s murder in 2020.

Although many in the LGBTIQ+ communities wanted a Royal Commission into the crimes, a spokesperson for Attorney-General Mark Speakman described the inquiry as appropriate for dealing with “specific allegations, including allegations of specific criminal activity.”

Justice Sackar will have the power to hold hearings, summon witnesses, and inspect documents.

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