More than an apology needed: calls for police reform on LGBTQ hate crimes

More than an apology needed: calls for police reform on LGBTQ hate crimes
Image: NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb. Dan Himbrechts, AAP Image.



More than an apology is needed from the government and police on hate crimes, says Dr Amanda Cohn, Greens MLC and spokesperson for LGBTIQA+.

Queer communities have been left reeling after the murders of Luke Davies and Jesse Baird last week by a NSW Police officer, using a police firearm.

Over the weekend, NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb apologised to the families of gay hate crime victims who were denied justice due to systemic failures within the police force.

“This apology is important, overdue, and welcome, but it will take significant and tangible reform to the NSWPF to rebuild trust with queer communities,” said Dr Cohn.

Despite the Commissioner’s apology, NSW Police are yet to commit to implementing any of the recommendations from an inquiry into LGBTIQ hate crimes.

Inquiry into LGBTQ hate crimes

The world-first commission of inquiry was established by the former Perrottet Liberal government in 2022 after persistent advocacy by Independent MP Alex Greenwich and scrutinised dozens of unsolved deaths in NSW between 1970 and 2010.

The inquiry examined 32 cases in total and found reason to suspect LGBTQ bias in 25 of them.

NSW Supreme Court Justice John Sackar, who headed the inquiry, produced 19 recommendations, 15 of which were directed at police.

Justice Sackar also slammed the police for their “adversarial or unnecessarily defensive” stance and said he had “faced significant and unexpected challenges” in dealings with police and accessing records.

Last week, in response to questions from the Greens on budget estimates, Police Minister Yasmin Catley was unable to articulate progress on the implementation of the inquiry’s recommendations – she only recommitted to an internal working group process.

Dr Cohn said, “LGBTIQ hate crimes are not just historical. Our leaders must recognise the present pain and grief of queer communities in NSW and that the NSW Police Force must reckon with its ‘shameful homophobia, transphobia and prejudice’,” quoting Sackar’s words.

Minns continues to insist that police march in Mardi Gras 

NSW Premier Chris Minns has continued to defend the presence of police marching in the Mardi Gras parade, despite increased calls for NSW Police to pull out of the annual march, set to go ahead in Darlinghurst this week.

Speaking to 2GB’s Ben Fordham on Monday, Minns said police should be able to march.

“I have to say, I think police should march,” he said.

“It should be really acknowledged that there’s a lot of gay and lesbian members of the NSW police force,” he continued.

“Traditionally, they are the group that have fought for the right to march and that has been seen in recent years as a real effort to bring the community together.”

He dismissed suggestions that organisers could pull the invitation to police, saying “Yanking their invitation I think would be a regressive step and probably not indicative of the fact that they’ve gone through a lot to be a police officer.”

Dr Cohn said Minns’ insistence that police march is “at odds with community sentiment”, but Mr Greenwich told Nine that police response to the special commission of Inquiry into LGBTQ Hate Crimes is a separate issue to the murder of “two beautiful, innocent, young men”.

He admitted, however, that the issues do speak to the safety concerns among the LGBTQ community.

The Police Commissioner told 2GB that the murder was a “crime of passion”, and that it would be a “travesty” if police officers were not allowed to march in this year’s parade.


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