Law body calls for judicial inquiry into gay and transgender hate crimes

Warning: This article contains mentions of violent hate crimes, suicide.

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has called on the NSW Parliament to adopt all recommendations of the Standing Committee on Social Issues report, as reported in The Australian today, on gay and transgender hate crimes.

The newspaper has revealed that the yet unpublished report recommends the Berejiklian government establish a judicial inquiry into a dark ­period in Sydney’s history in which 88 men where potentially murdered by homophobic killers and gangs. Twenty three of the cases the parliamentary inquiry investigated are currently classed as unsolved murders.

The report highlights that police failed to properly investigate the crimes, especially those that appeared to involve a gay victim. Police have already apologised for their actions during the period. The most high profile of the cases is that of Scott Johnson (pictured), whose deaths was classed as a suicide for decades. A man is currently before the courts charged with his murder.

ALHR President Kerry Weste said, “The final report on gay and transgender hate crimes between 1970 and 2010, expected to be tabled in May, will mark an important but sad point in the LGBT community’s journey towards truth and justice.

“For too long, the LGBT community has suffered brutal and violent human rights violations at the hands of groups within society, and yet has not benefited from appropriate responses from police and justice agencies.”

“If, as reported, the Final Report rightly recommends a judicial commission of inquiry with full investigative powers to look into the responses of the NSW justice system during the 1970s, 80s, 90s and 2000s, ALHR will be fully supportive of this as an initial move to correct a time when gays, lesbians and transgender people were targetted for killings, bashings and robberies.”

ALHR LGBT Co-Chair Georgia Burke said the action was long overdue.

“ALHR hopes that, the Final Report will serve to establish the framework for a long overdue commitment to truth-telling in the LGBT space. The LGBT community deserves to have their internationally-recognised human rights to life, equality before the law, the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, freedom of expression and freedom from torture

“Human rights law also imposes an obligation on countries to provide remedies and reparation for the victims of human rights violations. But our community has not had such protections and, even now, we remain vulnerable to hate speech, vilification and violence. This Final Report into gay and transgender hate crimes in NSW needs to send a powerful message to the LGBT community that our government is finally listening.”

ALHR was established in 1993 and is a national association of Australian solicitors, barristers, academics, judicial officers and law students who practise and promote international human rights law in Australia. ALHR has active and engaged National, State and Territory committees and specialist thematic committees. Through advocacy, media engagement, education, networking, research and training, ALHR promotes, practices and protects universally accepted standards of human rights throughout Australia and overseas.

OIP Staff

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