The New South Wales Government has announced that an inquiry will be held into unsolved homophobic and transphobic murders and other hate crimes.
The final parliamentary inquiry report on historical hate crimes in New South Wales, tabled earlier this year by the Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Social Issues, recommended a judicial inquiry into the crimes.
Advocates including community health organisation ACON welcomed the report’s recommendation and the possibility of justice and healing trauma through an inquiry.
The judicial inquiry announced this week will examine crimes that were committed between 1970 and 2010 in the Sydney area, ABC News has reported.
Committee Chair Shayne Mallard said that at least 88 gay and trans people were murdered in that time, though the true number is likely higher.
In the 1980s and 1990s, dozens of men were killed in gay beat areas.
“[Crimes were] underreported or not correctly recorded,” said Mallard.
“[People in the] lesbian community were victims of gay hate murders as well, usually recorded as domestic violence.”
He said that the inquiry will “have a lot more power than the police or [the Committee’s] inquiry to get to the bottom of these murders”.
“The police have suspects… they have people in their sights, let’s flush them out,” said Mallard.
“They’re walking among our community today.”
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said that the “horrific” crimes had been committed and responded to in a historical context of homophobia and transphobia.
“These crimes took place at a time when many in the community thought gay and transgender people were sick, perverted, or criminals,” said Parkhill.
“That was reflected not only in terms of the horrific acts of violence committed against us but also how the system responded apathetically and with inertness to these atrocities.
“We hope this inquiry will be the next step towards healing and justice for their families and loved ones.”