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Parliament to hold inquiry into how police investigated gay murders in Sydney

Parliament to hold inquiry into how police investigated gay murders in Sydney

Scott Johnson standing on a cliff top

Parliament in an Australian state will conduct an inquiry into they way police investigated the murders of gay men and trans people in Sydney.

The murders of 88 gay men and trans women in Sydney from 1970 and 2010 are suspected hate crimes. Sydney is the capital of the state of New South Wales.

NSW Police had long been criticized for the way it handled the investigations and earlier this year it admitted ‘we got it wrong’. But LGBTI advocates have argued police still has a long way to go to fix its internal culture.

On Wednesday the NSW Parliament announced a multi-partisan inquiry into gay and transgender hate crimes. The inquiry will also look into the current criminal justice culture relating to such crimes.

Shayne Mallard MLC will chair the Inquiry and said it would help 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 short comings have been addressed.

The inquiry follows a community report called ‘in Pursuit of Truth Justice’. That report documented violence against the LGBTIQ community. It also follows the recent NSW Police Strike Force Parrabell report which examined whether these deaths were gay hate crimes.

There’s still a long way to go

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSWGLRL) has helped collect evidence around LGBTI hate crimes for nearly 30 years.

‘This inquiry is overdue. For the heartbroken friends and family members of these individuals… it has been a decades long journey for justice. And that journey is not over,’ said NSWGLRL co-Convenor Lauren Foy.

She said the Parrabell findings disheartened LGBTI people after they practised a lot of goodwill to NSW Police.

‘The NSW Police spent pages and pages of its Parrabell report attempting to frame these violent murders as somehow ‘a part of the times’,’ she said.

‘They also ducked any obligation they had to assess the role of Police bias in the often woeful response to these crimes due to widespread social prejudice against LGBTI people.’

Foy said mounting evidence showed NSW Police have not properly addressed its internal culture regarding LGBTI people.

‘In the past year, we’ve seen shocking revelations about an alleged culture of institutional homophobia within NSW Police, including bullying of employees at Newtown Local Area Command, and a failure to take seriously cases of domestic violence reported by LGBTI people,’ she said.