A new report into historical murders and other violent crimes against gay men and trans women in New South Wales seeks to deliver justice, and aid the ongoing healing process for those still impacted today.
Produced by LGBTI health organisation ACON, In Pursuit of Truth and Justice: Documenting Gay and Transgender Prejudice Killings in NSW in the Late 20th Century shines a light on the suspected anti-gay murders that occurred from the 1970s to the 1990s.
It highlights the failures in the criminal justice system at the time, as well as the lasting effects these shortcomings have had on the LGBTI community.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said the report brings a cultural and community lens to a tragic and dark period in the LGBTI history of Sydney and surrounding areas.
“We know that a wave of violence swept through Sydney between the late 1970s and early 1990s, which claimed the lives of some gay men,” he said.
“We also know that many more, including transgender women, were brutally assaulted and terrorised and some of these cases remain unsolved.
“ACON, along with a range of community partners, have long been working to address the painful legacy left behind by this epidemic of violence.
“By exploring the past, we hope to deepen our understanding of these events, which will help us improve current responses to LGBTI hate crimes, enhance the criminal justice system and further develop violence prevention strategies.”
The report’s 18 recommendations include an inquiry exploring the extent of historical violence against the LGBTI community.
It also calls for a formal apology by parliament and the police for the inadequate and slow responses to some homophobic and transphobic hate-motivated murders and violence during this period.
“There has not been sufficient acknowledgement or recognition of the severity of these past hate crimes,” Parkhill said.
“An inquiry into the extent of the historical violence experienced by people in our communities and an apology for what they endured will go a long way in healing the residual trauma and intergenerational grief still shouldered today.”
Parkhill said that while the report highlights inadequacies of the response to the crimes at the time, it is not meant to disproportionately cast blame upon any singular agency.
“It is important to note these events occurred in a time when homophobic and transphobic prejudice and hate permeated our society, thriving in many environments including government agencies, public institutions, courthouses, workplaces, communities, schools and homes,” he said.
“The relationship between LGBTI communities and New South Wales Police has moved forward in the last 40 years.
“We are in a very different place now compared to what it was and that needs to be further developed. Progress has been made, but there’s still more to do. It is important we continue to foster and maintain dialogue to encourage ongoing cultural change.
“The work ACON has undertaken with the community not only champions the call for justice, but is also raising awareness about safety and the importance of celebrating diversity and inclusion.”