The NSW Government has announced it will establish an inquiry into hate crimes committed against the LGBTIQ+ community. The inquiry sparked following the recommendations from a report by the Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Social Issues which was held in May this year.
Since its inception, The Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Social Issues ‘Inquiry into Gay Hate and Transgender Hate Crimes Between 1970 and 2010’ has made three major Findings and five Recommendations in its report – all of which have been supported by the Government.
Check out the report on the NSW parliament website.
Although full details of the inquiry are yet to be released, Liberal MP Shayne Mallard who has been leading the parliamentary inquiry says he is hopeful of the inquiry’s strong investigative powers. The inquiry is expected to be led by a retired judge or senior barrister, and be assisted by a team of lawyers, investigators and police resources with a budget to match. He states, “This will be a judicial-style inquiry, which has all the resources of the police and a very strong package of laws about use of phone taps and compelling witnesses to give evidence or go to jail”.
Mr Mallard has confirmed that the inquiry is only an investigation at this stage but will be instrumental in bringing forward strong evidence to the police and other bodies to potentially establish criminal proceedings. “Our parliamentary inquiry is purely investigative, it doesn’t have an ability to bring criminal proceedings, doesn’t have the ability to use police resources to investigate avenues or people of interest … we are an evidence and testimony-gathering body doing analysis,” Mr Mallard said.
The inquiry will look into crimes against the LGBTIQ+ community over a 40-year period, which will hopefully restore justice and faith in our legal system here in Australia – as well as provide closure and reconciliation for the loved ones affected by these heartbreaking cases. Mr Mallard states “The long road to this moment is a tribute to Kay Warren and those who lost loved ones. Kay’s son Ross disappeared at Mark’s Park in 1989 and she never gave up the fight for justice. Those responsible for these crimes are now middle aged and many remain unpunished. This inquiry is the right way to address the concerns of the community and hopefully bring some of the offenders to justice. My great thanks to all those who supported and helped our Inquiry and to my colleagues.”
The NSW cabinet recently agreed to establish the inquiry and Attorney-General Mark Speakman is drafting the terms of reference.
So far, it has been established that the NSW Police Force “failed in its responsibility to properly investigate cases of historical gay and transgender hate crime” where the May 2021 report found to have “undermined the confidence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGTBIQ) communities in the NSW Police Force and the criminal justice system more broadly”. However, this kind of evidence is monumental in achieving justice to the victims of hate crimes in question.
There were at least 88 alleged gay and transgender hate killings in NSW between 1975 and 1999 as well as potentially thousands of non-fatal homophobic attacks – the inquiry also took into account anti-lesbian and anti-trans violence that had in the past been characterised as domestic violence or crimes against sex workers according to a submission to the inquiry.
NSW Police in recent years, have offered rewards in relation to several suspected cold case killings thought to be related to anti-gay hatred.
Details about the content of the inquiry, including its terms of reference, are yet to be announced but once they are we will be sure to release another blog post with all the details and our thoughts.