Sep 6, 2022
The Special Commission of Inquiry into LGBTIQ hate crimes in NSW is calling for the public’s help as it scrutinises dozens of deaths in the state between 1970 and 2010.
Led by the Honourable Justice John Sackar, the Special Commission is inquiring into all the unsolved deaths, that may have been hate crimes, of LGBTIQ people (or people assumed to be LGBTIQ) in that 40-year period. The early 1980s to the mid-1990s, in particular, saw significant numbers of such cases.
Some of those deaths were considered by the NSW Police Force in a report by Strike Force Parrabell in 2018, and by a Standing Committee of the NSW Parliament in two reports issued in 2019 and 2021. As well as looking into those cases, the Special Commission is also assessing many other unsolved deaths and missing persons cases over the same period, in order to cast more light on a dark period for LGBTIQ people in this state.
So far, the team of dedicated barristers, solicitors and investigators has obtained, and is analysing, well over 100,000 documents drawn from 40 years of police files, coroners’ files, and other sources.
Peter Gray SC is Senior Counsel Assisting the Inquiry. He says it is critical for both family members and friends of the victims, and members of the public generally, to come forward if they have any information which might help.
“Any recollections or pieces of information that you might have, however major or minor, could provide a vital link in understanding what happened. In some cases, it may ultimately lead to arrests and prosecutions.”
“Justice in these cases has been long-delayed, and long-awaited. This may be the last chance for the truth about some of these historical deaths to be exposed. We need to hear from you.”
Mr Gray says the Inquiry also represents a vital opportunity for those who were actually involved in, or saw, events that resulted in the death of an LGBTIQ person a long time ago.
“If you have had something weighing on your mind for years about these things, now is your chance to do something to make some amends. Now is the time to break your silence,” he says.
Launched by the NSW government in April 2022, the Special Commission of Inquiry has extensive powers to undertake its work, including the authority to compel witnesses to give evidence, to compel the production of documents, and to hold both public and private hearings.
It is expected that the first public hearings will take place in October-November 2022, and that there will be further hearings in 2023. Justice Sackar is required to deliver a final report to the Governor on or before 30 June 2023.
Information can be provided (anonymously or confidentially if you prefer) either:
- on the Special Commission website;
- by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org;
- by writing to The Special Commission of Inquiry into LGBTIQ Hate Crimes, GPO Box 5341, Sydney NSW 2001.
The following services provide counselling for LGBTIQ community members who have experienced violence, as well as friends and loved ones:
AIDS Council of NSW (ACON)
Ph: (02) 9206 2000
acon.org.au/mentalhealth (external link)
Ph: 1800 184 527
qlife.org.au (external link)
Ph: 13 14 11
lifeline.org.au (external link)