Police mistrust still real for gay Sydney

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The effect of homophobic and hostile attitudes of some police officers towards many gay men decades ago still lingers, a hate crime investigation must be told.

Ulo Klemmer, a former gay beat outreach worker, was expected to tell the inquest on Thursday that he had had positive interactions with police, but there was a lot of mistrust in the gay community.

In a statement to the inquest, he attributes the distrust to the attitudes of “some, but not all” police officers many gay people have encountered for decades.

The NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into LGBTQI Hate Crimes has been told that police are either showing indifference to gay hate crimes or actively trying to catch men at gay beats.

A man attacked by a gang with PVC pipes said he thought police were more interested in what he did in a park late at night.

Another man who was bloodied in an ambush was told by a nearby officer that he was busy and needed to report a crime to the local station.

Former co-organizer of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Gary Cox told the inquest on Wednesday he believed the HIV/AIDS epidemic and “the hysteria surrounding it” had caused a growing wave of violent hate attacks in the late 1980s.

“I characterize it sometimes as a stage (with) discrimination, hostility, prejudice, stereotypes towards gays and lesbians,” he said.

“And then there was the backdrop of HIV/AIDS with the hysteria and ignorance and blame around it.

“It was the perfect storm we saw around 1988.”

Police were reluctant to acknowledge that more gay and lesbian people were being targeted by youth gangs, so the Community Data Project began, Dr Cox said.

The Streetwatch report shed light on gay hate crimes in Sydney by detailing when, where, how and how often people were attacked.

Half of the assaults were perpetrated by people perceived by the victims to be under 20 years old.

The select commission is tasked with investigating historic hate crimes against the queer community.

It is particularly focused on a wave of gay homicides and other crimes in Sydney during the 1980s AIDS epidemic.

The police response will be the focus of hearings in December.

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