The NSW Government announced on Saturday, April 16, that it will establish a Special Commission of Inquiry into LGBTIQ Hate Crimes.

Justice John Sackar will act as Commissioner in charge of the inquiry. 

Inquiry To Investigate Unsolved LGBTQI Hate Crime Deaths

The Inquiry will look into “the manner and cause of death” of all previously investigated unsolved LGBTQI hate crime deaths in NSW between 1970 and 2010.

It will also specifically look into the 88 deaths or suspected deaths “previously investigated by Strike Force Parrabell that remain unsolved.”

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said, “These unsolved deaths have left loving families without answers for too long.

“This Inquiry provides an opportunity to focus further scrutiny on suspected hate crimes, and under the leadership of Justice Sackar will work to close a dark chapter of our state’s history that has left an indelible mark.

“Justice Sackar is a respected and experienced Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and will bring expertise to this significant role.”

According to Attorney General Mark Speakman, Justice Sackar will be able to hold hearings, summon witnesses, and inspect documents. 

Speaking on the Inquiry, Speakman said, “A Special Commission of Inquiry is a powerful investigative tool to look for answers for which many have been waiting decades. No one should have to suffer the distress of not knowing what happened to someone they love.”

Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich celebrated the news.

“I am heartened to see the Inquiry established and underway,” Greenwich said. 

He continued, “For too long the LGBTIQ lives lost during this terrible period have not received the justice they deserve. 

“It’s my hope that this judicial inquiry will provide some closure for the friends, family, and communities of those who were victims of brutal and cowardly attacks and help ensure that dark time is never repeated.”

ACON, NSW’s leading LGBTQ health organisation, welcomed the news. 

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said, “For decades, sexuality and gender diverse people in NSW were subjected to horrific hate crimes. This epidemic of violence, along with the slow and inadequate responses to many of these crimes, have left a painful legacy for the loved ones of victims, survivors, their families, and the broader community,”

“Significant questions remain, and they cannot be allowed to persist unanswered because evidence and memory have been lost. Many of the survivors and the perpetrators may not be with us for much longer.

Parkhill continued, “We know through recent breakthroughs in decades-old cases that additional inquiries, sustained community and media focus, and increased resourcing elevates these crimes in the public eye and moves us closer to righting past wrongs.”

Sydney LGBTQ historian, Garry Wotherspoon, told SBS News, “I think it’s a great step forward. We’d hoped for a royal commission, but a judicial inquiry with a supreme court judge, if he has the right powers, such as to force witnesses to appear under oath, is a step in the right direction after all these years.”

Justice Sackar’s final report will be presented by June 30 2023.

The NSW government announced that it would set up the judicial inquiry into the spate of anti-gay and anti-trans hate crimes, on November 4 2021.

The setting up of a judicial inquiry was one of the recommendations made in May 2021 by a bipartisan NSW Parliamentary committee.

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