Thorne Harbour Health has joined with Dowson Turco Lawyers (DTL) and investigative journalist Seb Starcevic to call for a parliamentary inquiry into historical and contemporary hate crimes against LGBTQI people in Victoria and the institutional responses to them.
A similar inquiry was held by the NSW Parliament in 2018 and now there are calls for Victoria to follow suite, particularly in light of this week’s apology from Victoria Police for the past enforcement of laws criminalising sex between men and discrimination against LGBTQI officers inside the force.
Thorne Harbour Health CEO Simon Ruth said it was important for authorities to get a picture of the discrimination in policing that the LGBTQI community in Victoria had endured.
“While we acknowledge that Victoria Police and others are trying to do the right thing, an important part of this reconciliation is knowing what they’re apologising for,” Ruth said.
“An inquiry into Victoria’s institutional response should take the justice system into account but also institutions like hospitals. We have received community feedback that for many, their distrust in ‘the system’ starts there.”
Seb Starcevic said he had been shocked by the scale of the violence that he had uncovered through his investigations.
“Through my research, I have discovered that, as in New South Wales, dozens of gay men in Victoria were assaulted and in some cases killed simply for being gay,” Starcevic said.
“One of these men was Brent Everett, a 29-year-old aspiring artist who was stomped to death in a Geelong public toilet in 1988. After talking to Brent’s family, I learned the wounds from these acts of murderous homophobia are still raw decades later.”
DTL law firm partner Nicholas Stewart agreed with Thorne Harbour Health’s assessment of the situation.
“As an LGBTI law firm we are always looking to make society safer and more inclusive for LGBTI communities across Australia,” Stewart said.
“But that objective requires consideration of the wrongs of the past and learning from those errors so that laws are drafted to guarantee our communities’ safety.”
“DTL is grateful for the investment of the NSW Parliament in relation to this issue, and we are now deeply considering the interim report from the inquiry of 2018.”
“It is important that Victoria follows suit because the LGBTI communities in that state are just as significant as those in NSW and are looking to their government for acknowledgement of enduring pain and significant vulnerability.”