Rights Lobby welcomes Inquiry, warns Police they must do more to earn community’s confidence

19 September 2018

The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW) welcomes today’s announcement of a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into gay and transgender hate crimes and the current criminal justice culture relating to such crimes. The Lobby has been involved in the collection of evidence around LGBTI hate crimes for nearly 30 years – a number of which were looked into through the Operation Parrabell report.

“This inquiry is overdue. For the heartbroken friends and family members of these individuals, who were targeted and murdered, it has been a decades long journey for justice and redress. And that journey is not over,” Co-Convenor Lauren Foy said.

The Lobby warned, however, that after years of goodwill the final release of the Operation Parrabell report was deeply disheartening and only added to the call for an Inquiry.

“The NSW Police spent pages and pages of its Parrabell report attempting to frame these violent murders as somehow ‘a part of the times’. They also ducked any obligation they had to assess the role of Police bias in the often woeful response to these crimes due to widespread social prejudice against LGBTI people.

“Murder has always been considered a crime in NSW. Social prejudice has never been an excuse for murder. This shows just how far is left to go for NSW Police in 2018,” Foy said.

The Lobby also believes there is mounting evidence NSW Police has failed to properly address its internal culture relating to LGBTI people and crimes affecting them.

“In the past year we’ve seen shocking revelations about an alleged culture of institutional homophobia within NSW Police, including bullying of employees at Newtown Local Area Command, and a failure to take cases of domestic violence seriously when reported by LGBTI people,” Foy said.

“Unfortunately this goes to the highest levels of NSW Police, with the current Commissioner involved in attempts to internally resolve the Newtown homophobia case.

“If it wasn’t for the bravery of these individuals and the work of Dowson Turco Lawyers, NSW Police would still be turning a blind eye to homophobia within its ranks,” Foy said.

While welcoming the Inquiry, the Lobby highlighted there are practical steps NSW Police can take today to improve the situation – if it has the appetite for real change.

“NSW Police doesn’t have to wait for an Inquiry to take action. We want to see ongoing education modules relating to LGBTI people as a standard of employment for every employee of NSW Police – from the Commissioner down. It is no longer good enough to have a handful of ‘trained’ GLLOs.*”

“An individual living in any corner of this state should be able to deal with any NSW Police employee with confidence, knowing they will be treated equally and respectfully.

Until that becomes a reality, NSW Police have not done enough to earn the community’s confidence and NSW Parliament, sadly, must act to make it a reality for LGBTI people.”

The Lobby acknowledges the long-running advocacy of Shayne Mallard and Penny Sharpe among many parliamentarians who supported establishing this Inquiry, as well as the vital importance of ACON’s report In Pursuit of Truth and Justice released this year.

*Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers, NSW Police.

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