New South Wales will establish an inquiry into a series of brutal gay and transgender hate crimes committed in Sydney over 40 years, Premier Dominic Perrottet says.
The judicial inquiry follows the recommendation of a bipartisan upper house parliamentary committee report tabled in May.
The social issues committee inquiry, which began in 2018, heard months of testimony from victims, their families and legal representatives about suspected hate crimes against 88 men between 1970 and 2010.
Some 23 of the cases remain unsolved.
“These crimes represent one of the darkest times in our recent history,” Mr Perrottet said on Thursday.
“They were callous, brutal and cowardly.”
Members of the LGBTI community suffered grave injustices which “were not acceptable in the past and they are not acceptable now”, he added.
“This is the first step to address them.”
Special Minister of State Don Harwin says justice for the victims, their families and friends has been slow and many still carry “the physical and emotional scars of these vile attacks”.
“The inquiry recommended by the committee will help to bring some closure for the families and healing to the thousands of others, including myself, who experienced the threat of violence or an actual assault,” he said.
The inquiry’s final report found the NSW Police Force had historically failed in its responsibility to properly investigate cases.
But the committee stopped short of recommending NSW Police issue a public apology, although it noted acknowledgement by those who failed to protect and deliver justice for LGBTQI people was necessary for healing.
The report recommended the inquiry be run by a judge and have the power to investigate unsolved cases, including that of Wollongong television newsreader Ross Warren and barman John Russell.
Mr Warren, 25, disappeared after a night out drinking with friends in July 1989.
His body was never found, but his keys were found at the bottom of cliffs at Tamarama beach in Sydney’s east.
Four months later, Mr Russell’s body was found in the same spot after a night out with friends.
Details of the inquiry and its terms of reference will be announced soon.