Australian police admit killings of 27 gay men were likely homophobic hate crimes

(Facebook/justice for scott johnson)

One of Australia’s largest police forces has admitted that the unsolved deaths of tens of gay men were likely homophobic hate crimes.

Police had previously discovered 88 cases where gay men had died under suspicious circumstances between 1970 and 1990 in Sydney and the surrounding area.

New South Wales police opened an investigation into these deaths in 2015, launching Strike Force Parabell to internally investigate the cases.

New South Wales police officers (Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Strike Force Parrabell concluded in a report this week that 27 of them were indeed homophobic hate crimes, despite originally being classified as suicides or tragic accidents.

On Wednesday, the New South Wales police admitted that they had played a role in “marginalising” the LGBT community at the time.

A statement issued on behalf of the police said: “[New South Wales Police] acknowledges without qualification both its and society’s acceptance of gay bashings and shocking violence directed at gay men and the LGBT community between 1976 and 2000.”

It added: “There were certainly people murdered because of their sexuality during this time.”

30 of the deaths remain unsolved (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Assistant Commissioner Tony Crandell went on to say that while it was difficult to determine anti-gay sentiment from police officers from archived case files, he said that the police and society had given people a “licence” to attack gay people.

The New South Wales police investigation found that 34 of the deaths were likely not hate crimes, and as many as 30 currently remain unsolved.

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