There's a new push for a parliamentary inquiry into the NSW Police Force's response to gay hate crimes amid claims police culture remains homophobic.
Dowson Turco Lawyers, an LGBTI law firm, launched a petition on change.org this week to push for the inquiry into whether bias influenced police handling of the hate crimes.
Spokesman for the firm Nicholas Stewart said the petition was launched to gain justice for gay men and transgender women murdered and bashed in NSW and to ensure the culture within the police force changes.
"The Scott Johnson inquest ... confirmed what we already knew — the NSW Police Force was, and in some ways still is, affected by homophobic prejudice which affects its capacity to properly investigate LGBTI hate crimes," Mr Stewart said.
Scott Johnson was found dead at the bottom of a cliff at North Head in 1988. Only after 30 years and three inquests did the coroner find that it was the result of a gay hate attack. The coroner released his findings November 30, 2017.
"We act for Alan Rosendale who was bashed unconscious at a gay beat in 1989 by people who got out of a vehicle that a third party witness confirmed was a NSW police vehicle," Mr Stewart said.
A report released this week by the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON) called for further investigations into approximately 30 unsolved gay-hate murders that occurred between the late 1970s and early 1990s in which it is claimed police investigations were affected by bias.
Our current bias assessment tools are not practical...
The police force established its own internal investigation in 2013, known as Operation Parrabell, to investigate deaths that occurred in NSW between 1976 and 2000 in which a potential gay-hate motivation was involved.
In preparation for the release of the ACON report this week, Assistant Commissioner Tony Crandell released a statement acknowledging that the LGBTI community was "well and truly marginalised by society" during that period and NSW Police had requested academic expertise to develop new tools to prevent prejudice in policing.
"Our current bias assessment tools are not practical for everyday police officers on the frontline," he said.
"We are currently working towards a new system — it is one of the Parrabell recommendations — that while simple, will assure bias motivation is considered in each and every investigation."
Independent State MP for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, supports the petition for the parliamentary inquiry which he believes is necessary to rectify the wrongs of the past and prevent them from happening again.
"There are still so many unanswered questions which the recent ACON report highlights and it's clear that more is needed in terms of a government response and a police response," he said.
"It would allow MPs to go into the detail, to make recommendations to government and to police about steps that they could take, to not only help to rectify what had happened in the past in terms of the way cases were handled, but also make a set of recommendations to ensure that this can never happen again."
Jenny Leong MP, NSW Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson also supports calls for a parliamentary inquiry.
"The recent ACON Gay Hate Murders report, the outcome of the third Coronial Inquest into the death of Scott Johnson and the inadequacies of Operation Parrabell, make it clear that parliamentary oversight is needed," she said.