Inquiry into historical hate crimes an important step towards healing and justice

Today’s announcement of a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into historic hate crimes committed against members of the NSW LGBTIQ community has been welcomed by ACON.

The NSW Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Social Issues will hold an inquiry into institutional responses to hate crimes committed against members of the LGBTI community in NSW between 1970 and 2010.

The inquiry will look into the criminal justice system and whether there were any impediments that impacted the protection of LGBTIQ people in NSW and the delivery of justice to victims of LGBTIQ hate crimes and their families. It will also examine how past impediments have been addressed by current policies and practices.

In addition, the inquiry will also investigate the role of the gay panic defence in the culture of LGBTIQ hate crimes during this period, and the extent of its impact in the delivery of justice and the treatment of gay men during criminal investigations and court proceedings.

ACON President Dr Justin Koonin welcomed the inquiry as an important step towards healing and justice.

“We commend the NSW Parliament for inquiring further into gay and transgender hate crimes committed in NSW between 1970 and 2010, and how justice agencies responded to these violent crimes.

“This epidemic of violence, along with the slow and inadequate responses to many of these crimes, have left a painful legacy on the loved ones of victims, survivors, their families, and the entire community,” Dr Koonin said.

“ACON, and a range of community partners, have been working hard to address the grief and trauma, which continues to impact on our community’s health and wellbeing today.

“Questions remain and we are hopeful that this inquiry will finally deliver some answers. This is an important step towards justice and healing,” Dr Koonin said.

In May, ACON released the report In Pursuit of Truth & Justice, which looked at suspected anti-gay homicides that occurred in NSW between the 1970s and 1990s. Among its recommendations was an independent inquiry that would explore the extent of historical violence experienced by the LGBTIQ community.

“There has not been sufficient acknowledgement of the severity of these past hate crimes and it’s important the events of this tragic period are examined independently and thoroughly,” Dr Koonin said.

“This inquiry will provide confidence that we have explored the issues comprehensively, and that any ensuing recommendations are robust and sufficient.”

Dr Koonin acknowledged the many parliamentarians across the political spectrum for their support in the establishment of the inquiry.

“We extend our deepest thanks to the NSW Parliamentarians who have worked across the aisles to build support for this inquiry, particularly Shayne Mallard MLC and Penny Sharpe MLC. Their leadership means a lot for the survivors, their loved ones, the families of victims and the broader LGBTI community,” Dr Koonin said.

Dr Koonin also thanked the many people and organisations who have worked diligently in bringing attention to past fatal violence, and in facilitating justice for families, loved ones and the LGBTIQ community.

“This inquiry builds on the work of many dedicated LGBTIQ community members, groups, organisations and allies over a long period of time. We acknowledge their efforts in advocating for justice for those affected by these crimes,” Dr Koonin said.

“We particularly acknowledge the efforts of Nicholas Stewart, Partner of Dowson Turco Lawyers, who worked tirelessly in advocating for this inquiry. We also thank Dowson Turco Lawyers for their support in the development of ACON’s In Pursuit of Truth & Justice report.”

“We know that this inquiry will be painful for some, but it is crucial we deepen our understanding of what has occurred, identify the impediments to justice and assess the adequacy of our current policies, practices and institutional responses to crimes of this nature.”

ENDS

Read the ACON report In Pursuit of Truth & Justice (May 2018) here


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