Call for an investigation into hate crimes against gay men in New South Wales

A judicial inquiry to investigate unsolved hate crimes between gay and transgender people should be opened by the NSW government, a parliamentary inquiry has recommended.

The inquest heard months of testimony from victims, their families and legal representatives about alleged hate crimes against 88 men between 1970 and 2010.

Some 23 of the cases remain unresolved.

The findings of the bipartisan investigation’s final report, which was released on Tuesday, include that NSW police have historically failed in their responsibility to properly investigate cases.

The report also noted that those who had failed to protect and deliver justice for LGBTQI people acknowledged it was necessary for healing, but did not recommend that NSW Police issue a public apology.

The judicial inquiry recommended by the report would be led by a judge and would have the power to investigate unresolved cases, including that of Wollongong reporter Ross Warren and bartender John Russell.

Warren went missing after a night out drinking with friends in July 1989. His body was never found, but his keys were found at the foot of the cliffs at Tamarama Beach.

Four months later, Russell’s body was found in the same location after a similar night out with friends.

In 2002, another homosexual, Frenchman Gilles Mattaini, reportedly disappeared while walking near the cliffs of Tamarama in 1985.

Committee chair and Liberal MP Shayne Mallard said the heartbreaking stories released during the investigation required a call to action.

“For too long these deaths have gone unresolved and unanswered, leaving a hole in the lives of the families of the victims and loved ones,” he said in the report’s foreword.

“The committee believes the time to act is now before the narrowing window of opportunity to obtain evidence of these decades-old crimes closes.”

Greens MLC Abigail Boyd, who took part in the investigation, said a judicial inquiry was long overdue.

“NSW Police have let down the queer community,” she wrote on Twitter.

“They have prevented hate crime victim-survivors from seeking justice and have not properly investigated these murders.”

“These wrongs must be righted.”

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Larry Struck

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