Homophobia

Bondi hate crimes documentary


THERE are men and women in Bondi who have gotten away with horrific murders and have been able to go undetected for years. But local author Duncan McNab is hoping one of them will finally speak out. There was a culture of gay-hate bashings … It didn’t stop at the Harbour Bridge. We’ve heard stories of the equivalent of the Alexandria Eight or the Bondi Boys who regularly gay-bashed along the northern beaches.”

The former police officer last week released his latest book which details shocking stories of assaults and men thrown off cliffs just for being homosexual. More disturbing was the NSW Police Force’s response — or lack of — to the crimes. If one of the local gang members speaks out, Mr McNab says police will be forced to reinvestigate cases they had previously closed as a suicide or misadventure.

Mr McNab, 60 says his book highlight’s our local shame. About 80 men died or disappeared across the state from the late 70s to early 90s during an epidemic of gay hate crimes. Many of the brutal attacks on these men happened in the eastern suburbs which was a hunting ground for many gangs of young thugs such as the Bondi Boys and the Tamarama Three.

Mr McNab was a detective in the NSW Police Force for nine years leading up to the epidemic. The unsolved cases and investigative ineptitude still haunts him.

Two boys play cards at the Keelong Detention Centre, south of Wollongong, in April 1991. “Tell me some good stories, you c…,” says one.

“About fag-bashing?” asks the other. And this 17-year-old inmate does not disappoint. “It was heaps fun,” he says. With sadistic relish, he regales his fellow prisoner, and another at Sydney’s Minda Detention Centre a few months later, with his reminiscences. He reckons he was 12 when he started. He talks about hunting in packs of as many as 30 youths who would ambush homosexual men and punch and kick them and stomp on their heads, from Alexandria Park to Kings Cross and Centennial Park to Bondi and Tamarama. They’d go “cliff-jumping” and push gays over the edge. “Ah! Help, help!” he mocks one victim. “Heaps funny. Used to love how they scream, eh?”

David McMahon knows just how horrific. He is the gay man who got away. Working at his cafe soon after the attack, McMahon would see his attackers passing by. Ever since, he has sought to protect his identity. “I went into hiding, really. I was so shy and meek back then, I was the perfect target.” But now McMahon is braver, and he wants to reclaim his name and put it to this story; not his photograph but his name.

“I am at the stage in my life when I can see that this terrible history of gay hatred is part of what we are as a society. We have moved on a lot, thankfully, and I have been part of that.”

 

About The Murders

From the late 1970s through to the early 1990s, more than 80 gay men disappeared or were murdered in NSW, many at coastal parks in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, along with hundreds of assaults serious enough to require hospitalisation as well as thousands of violent incidents targeting gay men.

Many of these deaths and disappearances were misclassified as suicides, misadventure or accidents at the time and almost 30 remain unsolved. None were treated seriously as gay hate crimes and very few perpetrators have ever been charged.

In 2005, a coronial inquest into some of these cases concluded that the deaths were probably hated crimes. NSW Police have subsequently commenced a review of their investigations and have reopened several cases.

This aspect of Sydney’s recent history has been largely erased from public consciousness due in large part to the discrimination experienced by gay men at the time, which resulted in little interest among relevant authorities and the media.

Much has changed since the late 1980’s and it is important for the community at large to be able to both acknowledge the shameful acts of the past and to celebrate and promote diversity.

The NSW Police Force has admitted its officers may have made serious mistakes while re-examining potential gay-hate murders among a list of 30 unsolved deaths. An SBS investigation has uncovered a failure by police to check even basic details for some of the men, resulting in an erroneous assessment being provided to NSW State Coroner Michael Barnes.

In a crucial review of the 30 unsolved cases, police dispensed with the 1986 death of a “William Rudney” in four lines, beginning: “There are no coronial records of a death of a person of this name.”

But that is because the dead man’s name was not Rudney. It was Rooney – and there are indeed coronial records for a William Rooney.

The Real Story is a 90 minute feature presenting first-hand accounts of Sydney’s gay hate killings in the 1980s and 1990s.

This documentary unravels the stories of a society in the grips of homophobia as gangs stalked vulnerable victims on the coastline cliffs, brutal gay bashings were carried out, and lives were ended on the rocks below.

Many of those involved at the time, including police, advisors, victims and families of those murdered speak out on the crimes of the past in the hope that new evidence will rise to the surface in the pursuit of peace for the dead and justice for their loved ones.  


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