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Gay-hate homicide

Media Release

09 August 2000

Media release from Senator, the Hon Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Justice and Customs

Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Amanda Vanstone, spoke out today about gay-hate crimes and the shocking level of violence directed against gay men.

"Over the last ten years on average, four men were killed each year in New South Wales in homophobic attacks," Senator Vanstone said.

"Gay-hate attacks are not red-blooded reactions to homosexual advances, they are the acts of cowards."

The Minister made the comments in releasing the latest research paper from the Australian Institute of Criminology which examines differences and similarities between male gay-hate homicides.

"These research papers are an important way of establishing the facts of particular crimes and, as such, assist governments at all levels and communities in tailoring support, educative and preventative programs."

"For example, the paper shows that the majority of offenders in gay-hate murders were young men under 25. This sort of information is vitally important in developing early intervention through education and training."

"In the paper, the AIC has highlighted the excellent work of the New South Wales Police Service in developing strategies to reduce homophobic hate violence. This work deserves strong praise and it is this effort that receives the well-deserved standing ovation for police at the annual Mardi Gras."

Senator Vanstone said the AIC paper highlights that the victims of gay-hate attacks are more likely to be killed in the privacy of their own homes than in other murders which involve men as the victim.

"The victim of a gay-hate homicide is more likely to be killed by a stranger in comparison with other homicide victims. Strangers are involved in 45.5% of gay-hate homicides compared to 28% in other male homicides," Senator Vanstone said.

"The nature of gay-hate homicides is particularly brutal and alarming. The majority of cases involve more than one offender and a single victim [54.5%] compared to 44% of cases in other male homicides."

"Gay-hate homicides also appear to be particularly brutal, being more likely to involve savage beatings, repeated stabbing, mutilation or dismemberment. The majority involve physical assaults, with 38% of victims beaten to death and 13% strangled or suffocated. Victims of gay-hate homicides are rarely shot."

"These results are very disturbing. The location of the attacks, the relationship between victim and offender, the involvement of multiple offenders, and the brutality of the attacks suggest that some young men systematically seek out gay victims to attack because they hate gay men. In too many cases these attacks turn to murder."

"As the AIC paper concludes, such crimes impact not only on the target group, gay men, but impact on the wider community and in turn affect social harmony and well-being. This study reiterates the need for everyone to remain vigilant in protecting all its members."

The AIC paper also found that compared to other male homicides, in gay-hate homicides:

  • gay-hate victims are generally older than other male victims - the victim is older than the offender in 90.9 per cent of gay-hate crimes compared to 64.9 per cent of other male homicides.
  • offenders are more likely to be young - 29.5 per cent are aged between 15 and 17 compared to 8.4 per cent for other male homicides
  • offenders are more likely to be single (77.3 per cent in gay-hate homicide compared to 63.7 per cent in other male homicides)
  • in 43.2 per cent of cases the victim was working and the offender was not working (compared to 22.9 per cent of cases in other male homicides)
  • both victims and offenders are more likely to be of Caucasian appearance

The AIC's paper examined homicides in New South Wales in the ten year period between 1 July 1989 and 30 June 1999. In the period under review there were no lesbian-hate murders recorded in New South Wales although such crimes have occurred in Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.