Memorial artwork to honour victims of gay hate violence

sydney marks park Tamarama Beach gay hate violence memorial acon
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A Sydney council has approved and funded a permanent memorial artwork recognising the victims of gay hate violence in New South Wales.

From the 1970s to 1990s, many gay men were assaulted, robbed and in some cases murdered along on a stretch of Sydney coast. Many crimes occurred along the coastal walk from Sydney’s Bondi Beach to Tamarama (pictured), including at former gay beat Marks Park.

On Tuesday night, Waverley Council approved the memorial and committed $100,000 to it. It will take the form of a public artwork in the park to acknowledge gay hate violence victims.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said the council’s approval was a major step forward for the Bondi Memorial Project, which the organisation has been working on since 2015.

Parkhill said the memorial was an important part of the response to the “painful legacy” left behind by the wave of gay hate violence that swept through Sydney in that era.

“ACON has been working with a range of community partners, advocates and the broader LGBTI community on a range of responses to address [this legacy],” he said.

“This grief and trauma continues to impact on our community’s health and wellbeing today.”

Last month, a New South Wales parliamentary inquiry into historical gay and transgender hate crimes was announced to shine a further light on these tragic events.

The inquiry came after the release of two reports into unsolved murders from the period, one by NSW Police and the other by ACON.

Submissions to the parliamentary inquiry can be made through the NSW Parliament’s website until November 7.

Community healing after gay hate violence epidemic

The Bondi Memorial Project also received a philanthropic donation of $64,000 from Sydney gay couple Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg.

“There’s growing momentum in the community towards achieving healing and justice for victims and survivors of these violent crimes,” Parkhill said.

“These people were someone’s family member, loved one, partner and friend.

Many of these cases remain unsolved, and those left behind deserve healing and closure.

“Measures such as the inquiry and the memorial will go a long way in honouring the victims of these terrible acts and sending out a beacon of hope for all victims.”

Waverley Mayor John Wakefield said the council and ACON would formalise an agreement before searching for an artist.

“It’s been too long in recognising these terrible events from our not-so-distant past,” Mayor Wakefield said.

“Finally, we will have a permanent reminder by which we can pay our respects.”

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