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NSW government launches inquiry into LGBTIQ hate crimes

A special commission of inquiry into LGBTIQ hate crimes has been launched in NSW, in what has been described as an “important process to right past wrongs”.

user iconLauren Croft 21 April 2022 Politics
LGBTIQ hate crimes
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On the recommendation of Premier Dominic Perrottet, the Honourable Margaret Beazley, governor of NSW, has signed Letters Patent that will establish an inquiry into LGBTIQ hate crimes, in a bid to provide hope to grieving families and loved ones for answers about crimes that have gone unsolved in some cases for more than half a century.

The inquiry, led by the Honourable Justice John Sackar, will be tasked with inquiring into the manner and cause of death in all unsolved suspected hate crime deaths in the state between 1970 and 2010, where the victim was a member of the LGBTIQ community and the death was the subject of a previous investigation by the NSW Police Force. In addition, it will also examine the manner and cause of death in all cases that remain unsolved from the 88 deaths or suspected deaths considered by Strike Force Parrabell.

“These unsolved deaths have left loving families without answers for too long,” Mr Perrottet said.


“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.”

The commissioner, Justice Sackar, will have access to findings of years of previous inquiries and reports and the power to hold hearings, summon witnesses and inspect documents, according to Attorney-General Mark Speakman.

“A special commission of inquiry is a powerful investigative tool to look for answers for which many have been waiting decades,” he said.

“No one should have to suffer the distress of not knowing what happened to someone they love.”

The establishment of such an inquiry was a key recommendation in the final report of the Legislative Council’s standing committee on social issues inquiry into gay and transgender hate crimes between 1970 and 2010, tabled in May 2021 – which chair of the council Shayne Mallard said was an important step forward.

“These suspected crimes may have occurred decades ago but for those close to the victims, the scars and the pain still linger. Members of our LGBTIQ community have suffered grave injustices that were not acceptable in the past and are certainly not acceptable now,” he said.

“This inquiry will be painful, bringing some awful incidents back into the spotlight, but it is an important process to right past wrongs.”

Dowson Turco Lawyers partner Nicholas Stewart has welcomed the announcement – and said that the inquiry “must consider the gaps in prosecution briefs of evidence and look to fill those gaps through investigation”.

“Unfortunately, during the years that our community was targeted for hateful violence, many Australians, and often those in public services, law enforcement and judicial agencies thought gay and transgender people were sexual minorities undeserving of protection and justice. Murders were sometimes written off as suicides, evidence was lost, leads were not followed and victims’ families and friends were often ignored. Our community was seen as unequal and unworthy,” he said.

“We know that recent breakthroughs in decades-old cases have resulted from new approaches to policing, private resources and campaigning, and sustained community and media focus. The Australian public is now on-side and wants those responsible to be held to account.

“While we have concerns that a special commission of inquiry will be more limited in its powers than a royal commission, we trust that this inquiry will be rigorous and will lead to prosecutions.”

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