Health and legal advocates are once again calling on community members to participate in the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into gay and transgender hate crimes 1970 – 2010, which has been re-opened.
ACON and leading LGBTI law firm, Dowson Turco Lawyers, are encouraging people from sexuality and gender diverse communities impacted by historic prejudice-related violence to share their experiences and views by lodging a submission.
The NSW Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Social Issues launched an inquiry in September last year into institutional responses to hate crimes carried out against members of the LGBTIQ community in NSW between 1970 and 2010. The first round of submissions were collected between September and October 2018 and three hearings were held in November.
The ongoing inquiry will look further 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 and survivors of hate crimes as well as their families and loved ones. It will also examine how past impediments have been addressed by current policies and practices, and also what role the ‘gay panic defence’ played in the culture of violence and harassment, and the judicial system.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill welcomed the reopening of the inquiry in providing an opportunity for community members who may have missed the first round of submissions to share their own experiences and have their voices heard. “We commend the NSW Parliament for their commitment to shedding further light on the issue of historic hate crimes, and how judicial and justice agencies responded to these incidents,” said Mr Parkhill.
“With a range of community partners, we have been working hard to address the grief and trauma these tragic events have caused, which continues to impact on our community’s health and wellbeing today. Questions remain and we are encouraged that by reopening the submission process, we can take further steps towards healing and justice.”
In 2020, the Legislative Council’s committee will be travelling to the Far North Coast, the Central West, Wollongong, the South Coast and Sydney, to ensure that as many community members in NSW have their chance to be heard. Anyone from outside these areas is still encouraged to make a submission.
“ACON is encouraging members of our communities, especially those from rural and regional NSW, who didn’t have the chance to lodge a submission to the inquiry last year, to be part of the process,” said Mr Parkhill. “Your input is vital to improving our understanding of these events, and in the development of responses to ensure they do not occur again.”
The inquiry was first announced in the wake of the report In Search of Truth and Justice: Documenting Gay and Transgender Prejudice Killings in NSW in the late 20th Century, released in May 2018. The report was produced by ACON in partnership with a range of community organisations including Dowson Turco Lawyers.
“Through our own work with impacted community members, we know there has not been sufficient acknowledgement of the severity of these past hate crimes,” said Nicholas Stewart, Dowson Turco Lawyers Partner. “In the journey towards achieving justice and healing, it’s important the events of this tragic period are examined independently and thoroughly.”
“We know that this issue and the inquiry has been painful for some, but it is critical that our understanding of what occurred be as comprehensive as possible so that we can identify the impediments to justice, assess the adequacy of our current policies and practices, and scrutinise institutional responses to hate crimes.”
ACON’s Parkhill added: “We extend our deepest thanks to the NSW Parliamentarians who have worked in a cooperative and bipartisan manner to ensure that this inquiry continues. Their leadership means a lot for the survivors, their loved ones, family and friends of victims and the broader 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.”
The second round of submissions will close on 31 January 2020. For more information, and to make a submission, visit: www.parliament.nsw.gov.au for details.
Image: Hate crime victim Scott Johnson – courtesy of NSW Police