Special Commission to hear from first witnesses in LGBTQI hate crimes Inquiry

Nov 16, 2022

The Special Commission of Inquiry into LGBTIQ hate crimes (the Inquiry) will begin to hear from witnesses in its first public hearing next Monday, 21 November 2022, in Sydney.

The hearing will run over five days, examining the social and cultural context in which suspected LGBTIQ hate crime deaths occurred between 1970 and 2010.

The hearing commences at 10am at the Chief Secretary’s Building, Level 2, 121 Macquarie Street, Sydney and is open to the public. It will also be livestreamed on the homepage of the Inquiry’s website: www.specialcommission.nsw.gov.au/hearings (external link)

It is expected that the public hearing will include evidence relating to:

  1. The social, legal and cultural factors affecting the LGBTIQ community in the 40-year period in question;
  2. The level of violence perpetrated against the LGBTIQ community in that time, whether at known beats or in private homes or elsewhere;
  3. The nature of the relationship between the LGBTIQ community and the NSW Police over that period, including the Police response to violence and deaths suspected of being hate crimes;
  4. The advocacy and campaigns of the LGBTIQ community in that period, including some of the hallmark changes to laws affecting the community.

It is important for the Inquiry to appreciate the prevailing realities and attitudes of the time, and how various LGBTIQ community groups and advocates, and the Police, responded to the prejudice and violence that was occurring.

The Inquiry will hear from historians, advocates, writers, and others with lived experience of the period, including experience of the violence against the LGBTIQ community during that time. 

It is anticipated that the following witnesses will be called to give oral evidence:

  • Garry Wotherspoon – Historian, activist and author of several books includingGay Sydney.
  • Les Peterkin – a gay man whose life experiences include both Sydney and country NSW, between the 1950s and the present.
  • Greg Callaghan – journalist, author of Bondi Badlands and host of the podcast of the same name.
  • Barry Charles – Campus CAMP UNSW, First Secretary of the UNSW Gay Liberation and Co-Convenor of the Gay Rights Lobby in the early 1980s.
  • Bruce Grant – Co-Convenor of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby from 1989-1991, and Coordinator of the Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project from 1991-1999.
  • Dr Gary Cox –Co-Convenor of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby from 1988 to 1989 and author of the Streetwatch Report and the Count and Counter Report into hate related violence against gays and lesbians in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
  • Carole Ruthchild – Co-Convenor of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby from 1989 to 1992 and contributor to the Off Our Backs report into anti-lesbian violence in the early 90s.
  • Ülo Klemmer – Beat Outreach Worker with ACON in the 1990s.
  • Eloise Brook – Health and Communications Manager at The Gender Centre, editor of POLARE, Australia’s most well-known magazine for the transgender and gender diverse community, and presenter of the podcast Counting the Dead, an investigation of homicides against transgender people.

The Honourable Justice John Sackar will preside at the hearing. Counsel Assisting the Inquiry will be Peter Gray SC, Christine Melis, William de Mars and Kathleen Heath.

Journalists wishing to cover the hearing should notify the Inquiry’s media team to ensure access to the media room and/or relevant information including schedules and transcripts.

Seeking support

The following services provide counselling for LGBTIQ community members who have experienced violence, as well as friends and loved ones:

Ph: (02) 9206 2000
acon.org.au/mentalhealth (external link)

Ph: 1800 184 527
qlife.org.au (external link)

Ph: 13 14 11
lifeline.org.au (external link)


Media seeking further information can visit the Special Commission website (external link) or contact the Special Commission Senior Media Adviser at [email protected].