A long-awaited New South Wales parliamentary inquiry has been announced to examine gay hate crimes in Sydney over four decades, including the murders of 88 gay and transgender people, 30 of which remain unsolved.
A cross-party committee will look at crimes between 1970 and 2010 and investigate the NSW Police and criminal justice system response and whether authorities failed to protect LGBTIQ people in NSW and delayed justice to victims and their families.
Liberal MLC Shayne Mallard, who will chair the committee, said it will be an opportunity for the families, friends and community members of victims to share their experiences and seek a sense of justice for the victims.
“The gay hate crimes, bashings and murders are a dark stain on our city’s past that needs to be fully exposed for the sake of the victims, their families, friends and the community in general,” Mallard said.
“This inquiry will not only look at the violent crimes committed against the LGBTIQ community but will also review current policies around hate crimes to determine if any shortcomings have been addressed.”
It comes after the recent release of two reports into the violence of the period, In Pursuit of Truth & Justice from ACON and a separate report from NSW Police’s Strike Force Parrabell.
The ACON report examined suspected anti-gay homicides that occurred in NSW between the 1970s and 1990s, and among its recommendations was an independent inquiry exploring the extent of historical violence experienced by the LGBTIQ community.
One of the highest profile cases, the 1988 death of young mathematician Scott Johnson (pictured) in Sydney, was last November finally determined to be the result of a gay hate attack during an unprecendented third coronial inquest into the death.
ACON President Dr Justin Koonin said the inquiry was an important step towards healing and justice for the gay and transgender hate crimes committed in the state over the four decades.
“This epidemic of violence, along with the slow and inadequate responses to many of these crimes, have left a painful legacy on the loved ones of victims, survivors, their families, and the entire community,” Dr Koonin said.
“ACON, and a range of community partners, have been working hard to address the grief and trauma, which continues to impact on our community’s health and wellbeing today.
“There has not been sufficient acknowledgement of the severity of these past hate crimes and it’s important the events of this tragic period are examined independently and thoroughly.
“This inquiry will provide confidence that we have explored the issues comprehensively, and that any ensuing recommendations are robust and sufficient.”
The parliamentary inquiry will be conducted by the New South Wales parliament’s Social Issues Committee and is expected to begin in the coming weeks.
Labor MLC Penny Sharpe, a member of the parliamentary inquiry committee, said she was pleased that the inquiry was a bipartisan effort to examine “the ferocity and frequency of violence targeted towards members of the LGBTIQ community” in the past decades.
“I look forward to this inquiry as a means to help find answers and to make sure that state government agencies are doing everything in their power to ensure that violence against the LGBTIQ community is addressed and ultimately eliminated,” she said.