A judicial inquiry to investigate unsolved gay or transgender hate crimes should be established by the NSW government, a parliamentary inquiry has recommended.
The inquiry heard months of testimonies 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.
Findings of the bipartisan inquiry’s final report, which was was handed down on Tuesday, include that the NSW Police Force had historically failed in its responsibility to properly investigate cases.
The report also noted the acknowledgement by those who failed to protect and deliver justice for LGBTQI people is necessary for healing, but stopped short of recommending NSW Police issue a public apology.
The judicial inquiry recommended by the report would be run by a judge and have the power to investigate unsolved cases, including that of Wollongong newsreader Ross Warren and barman John Russell.
Warren 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.
Four months later Russell’s body was found in the same spot after a similar night out with friends.
In 2002 another gay man, French national Gilles Mattaini, was reported to have gone missing while walking near the Tamarama cliffs in 1985.
Committee chair and Liberal MP Shayne Mallard said the heartbreaking stories aired during the inquiry necessitated a call to action.
“For too long these deaths have remained unresolved and unanswered for, leaving a hole in the lives of victims’ families and loved ones,” he said in the report’s foreword.
“The committee believes that now is the time to act before the receding window of opportunity to obtain evidence relating to these decades old crimes closes.”
Greens MLC Abigail Boyd, who took part in the inquiry, said a judicial inquiry is long overdue.
“The NSW Police failed the queer community,” she wrote on Twitter.
“They blocked victim-survivors of hate crimes from seeking justice and failed to properly investigate these murders.”
“These wrongs must be undone.”