Report: Gay and Transgender Prejudice Killings in NSW in the Late 20th Century

ACON, May 2018

Australia has a long history of violence towards people from sexual and gender minorities, stretching from colonisation to the present day. This Report looks at what has been a tragic and shameful episode in Sydney’s history.

ACON, in conjunction with key partners, has undertaken a review of the initial list of 88
homicide cases that occurred during the period t from the 1970s through to the 1990s.

The key findings from this review include:

1. Homicides occurred in three main spaces, with majority of victims being killed in their own homes, followed by beats, and other locations which mostly include gay and other social spaces.

2. In general, there was little or no pre-existing relationship between assailants and their victims.

3. Where killings happened in the victim’s house, the victim was more likely to be known to the assailant, albeit in a minor way, whereas there was generally no existing relationship between the victim and assailant where the killing occurred at the beat or gay social spaces.

4. Generally, spaces where people were murdered were private, secluded or isolated, which meant the assailant was less likely to be interrupted, and this impacted the victim’s ability to call out for help.

5. The scenarios in all the spaces were commonly sexualised, or where people could be disinhibited by the consumption of alcohol and other drugs.

6. Assailants employed a variety of killing methods and, in general, inflicted several forms of violence upon their victims. The type of attack and the weapons used varied according to the location where the killings was carried out, whether in the victim’s home, at a beat or in gay social areas.

7. There is evidence of serial killings by gangs of young men as well as lone assailants.

8. From available information, it appears groups of assailants tended to kill their victims at beats or social spaces whereas individual assailants killed their victims in private residences.

9. There is information to indicate homophobia was likely involved in approximately 50% of listed cases; however the two cases involving transgender women do not appear to have been motivated by transphobia.

10. Of the initial 88 cases on the original list, approximately 30 remain unsolved.

Out of sight: the untold story of Adelaide’s gay hate murders

SBS, Oct 17th, 2016

For decades, gay bashers operated with impunity. Sometimes, they killed their victims. The police often didn’t care. Sometimes, they were said to be doing the bashing.

A culture of indifference meant the bodies piled up as the world looked the other way. But little is known about gay hate crimes outside those now widely documented in NSW. This SBS investigation explores alleged gay hate crimes in South Australia.

Read more: here

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Late one night in 1992, Rex Robinson pulled his car into one of Adelaide’s most notorious beats. High beam on, Rex sees a man lying face down, motionless in the middle of the road. It’s the night that embroiled Rex in a vicious bashing case which made headlines and outraged the gay community, leaving him without a job and wishing he’d never gone to the police.

Dr. George Duncan’s body was pulled from the River Torrens in 1972. At the time, homosexuality was illegal. Police were the suspects in the murder. It’s a case that’s gone on to become one of South Australia’s most notorious unsolved murders, altered history for all gay men in the state.

Beats are secretive places – they provide anonymity for men seeking sex, but this secrecy also provides a cover and protection for their attackers. “Todd” ran away at 16 and lived on the streets of Adelaide. The street kids he hung out with used to head to beats and used Todd as bait to lure men into the bushes because of how young he looked. This wasn’t the only group targeting homosexuals at beats.

David “John” Saint was an ordinary guy. He worked, bought three houses, did them up and sold them. On April 16, 1991, he was found covered in blood on a main Adelaide street by a passer-by. He didn’t make it. From day one, police said publicly that robbery was the motive. But this didn’t sit well with the gay community.

There is a way you can take a gay murder and make it not a gay murder. You get a good lawyer. This is what happened in 2011 to the brutal killing of Andrew Negre that continues to bounce around the legal system.