A judicial inquiry to investigate historical hate crimes in Sydney against the gay and transgender community should be set up by the NSW government, a bipartisan Parliamentary committee recommended on Tuesday.

Around 88 suspected deaths of men who were victims of hate crimes occurred between 1970 and 2010 in NSW, of which 23 remain unsolved.

“For too long these deaths have remained unresolved and unanswered for, leaving a hole in the lives of victims’ families and loved ones. The committee believes that now is the time to act before the receding window of opportunity to obtain evidence relating to these decades old crimes closes,” the panel said.

The panel chaired by openly gay Liberal MLC Shayne Mallard, was set up in in 2018 by the NSW Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Social Issues.

‘Gays Go Missing All The Time…’

The committee noted the case of Simon, a gay man from Newton, who went missing in July 2005. When his parents approached the NSW Police they were told “gays go missing all the time… he’ll turn up.

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The unsolved cases include those of French national Gilles Mattaini, news presenter Ross Warren and barman John Rusell.

Mattaini, 27, was last seen walking walking along the coastal track at Tamarama in September 1985, but was reported missing only in 2002.

Warren, 24, disappeared after a night out with friends in July 1989. His body was never found though two days later his keys were found on the rocks below the cliffs at Marks Park, Tamarama.

Russell, 31, went missing in November 1989 and his body was found at the bottom of the cliff at Marks Park, Tamarama.

During the panel’s term, the NSW Police arrested a man for the murder of Scott Johnson, whose body was found on December 10, 1988 at the base of a cliff at Blue Fish Point, near Manly’s North Head.

The committee said that its inquiry had “collectively painted a deeply painful and distressing picture of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) experience of hate crime between 1970 and 2010”.

Police Failed In Its Duty

The committee found that the NSW Police Force had faliled in its duty to properly investigate hate crimes against the gay and transgender communities.

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The historical attitude of the police towards hate crimes against the community has led to the community’s lack of confidence in reporting crimes against them. That continues to this day as the panel heard that NSW police had received 16 misconduct complaints relating to LGBTQI+ issues in 2019 and this had gone up to 20 in 2020.

The committee made the following recommendations:

  • NSW government should establish a judicial inquiry or expert review into the killings and unsolved crimes.

  • Update the implementation of the recommendations made in the NSW Police Strike Force Parrabell report.

  • Ensure the adequacy of victim support services for people touched by LGBTIQ hate crimes.

  • Supporting the completion of the Bondi Memorial in Marks Park, Bondi.

  • Ensure LGBTIQ hate crimes are adequately captured and recorded by the police.

Demands For NSW Police and Government To Apologise

ACON said it supported the recommendation for a judicial inquiry.

“The attacks committed against sexuality and gender diverse people in NSW over decades have left a painful legacy for the loved ones of victims, survivors, their families, and the entire community, which was compounded by the slow and inadequate responses to many of these crimes,” said ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill .

While its demand for a judicial inquiry was accepted, ACON said its other submissions before the committee were not addressed. ACON had sought the setting up of an office for equity, support for a government-funded mainstream education campaign and a public apology by the NSW Government and the NSW Police Force. “ACON will continue to advocate for these omissions through other policy settings and opportunities,” the organisation said.

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

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