Categories: Australia

‘We couldn’t rely on police’: The meeting that spurred action on homophobic attacks

“I knew we needed proof. No precise statistics were kept. We couldn’t trust the police to provide that or anyone else for that matter. We had to do it ourselves,” Cox said.

He told the inquiry that “what was emerging in 1988 was this issue of regular reporting… of violence, particularly against gay men, but not exclusively.”

Bruce Grant (left) and Dr. Gary Cox, both former co-conveners of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, leave the inquiry on Wednesday.Credit:james alcock

“The first reports I heard were of people being attacked in Hyde Park, and then it seemed to shift to the Oxford Street, Crown Street settings; people being chased by gangs of… youths, actually, they were teenagers with baseball bats.”

While the data was being collected, the Herald published a second report in December 1988 pointing to a series of gang attacks against the gay community.

“It was a terrifying image,” Cox said. “I think it showed that action was needed, and our strategy … to publicize this in the mainstream media was particularly to involve politicians and senior members of the police service.”

Cox was the author of the resulting street surveillance report, published in 1990, which presented statistics on homophobic attacks throughout the state. The report collected 67 responses, 63 from men and four from women.

A Herald report dated December 17, 1988 on a series of homophobic attacks.

It found that most attacks occurred between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., and in 94 percent of the incidents, the attackers were all men.

“More than two-thirds of the incidents involved three or more assailants, with more than 30 percent of the incidents involving six or more assailants,” Cox said in a statement filed with the investigation.

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“The youth gang aspects of the assaults were confirmed by the [victim’s] perception that more than 80 percent of the aggressors were under 30 years of age. Nearly half were considered to be 20 years of age or younger.”

The report was sent “far and wide” to the relevant ministers, local councils and police. “We had a pretty big mailing list,” Cox said.

And it led to a number of police initiatives, including foot patrols and a large police van parked in Taylor Square in Darlinghurst to provide assistance to members of the LGBTIQ community. It was also the start of the assignment of gay and lesbian liaison officers to individual stations, a “very critical change,” Cox said.

“We’ve come a long way in a fairly short period of time,” Cox said.

The NSW inquiry, a world first, has called a number of witnesses to help unravel the “social, legal and cultural factors affecting the LGBTIQ community” over the 40 years from 1970 to 2010, before to focus his gaze on a series of suspicions of hate. crimes

Led by High Court Justice John Sackar, the inquiry will explore dozens of deaths in New South Wales during that time after all known unsolved homicides from those years were reviewed, bringing the total to more than 700 cases.

Later on Wednesday, Bruce Grant, also a former co-convener of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and former coordinator of the Lesbian and Gay Violence Against Project Coordinator, provided evidence on community initiatives, including volunteers patrolling Oxford Street. .

“They gave visibility to the issue [and] a challenge for the police,” Grant said. The patrols, for about two summers, “really annoyed” the police, but they had “a much bigger presence on Oxford Street when they ended, so it was effective in that regard,” he said.

The investigation continues.

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