Today ACON welcomes, albeit with a great sense of sadness, the NSW State Corner’s finding that Scott Johnson was likely to have been murdered in a gay hate-related crime in Sydney in December 1988.
For close to three decades, the death of Scott Johnson has created great pain, anguish and anxiety for the Scott’s family. No family should be subjected to such uncertainty and scrutiny when their beliefs regarding the death of a loved one are challenged.
We hope that today’s ruling brings into sharp focus a resolution as to what actually happened to Scott on the cliffs of Manly, recognising that it is just one more step in in a long path toward justice.
Scott’s untimely death has fuelled unprecedented public speculation. It occurred during a time when homophobic violence and suspected gay hate murders were rife in Sydney, compounded by a sense of police lethargy, lack of care and inaction.
We believe these deaths were not always sufficiently investigated with the requisite due diligence, and have subsequently left many questions in their wake.
The deaths and disappearances of gay men and transgender women and the epidemic of violence during these decades has left legacy. Bias-motivated violence and murder are crimes that hurt both physically and emotionally, and the impact is felt deeply, both individually and communally.
While NSW Police processes and cultures are shifting, a history remains that needs to be investigated and accounted for, not just in relation to Scott’s case but for many other victims of similar hideous crimes that remain unsolved, and have not been treated with due respect or process.
Scott’s death and today’s ruling should be a siren for all, including the NSW Government and NSW Police, that full weight of justice has not been delivered to the perpetrators of this and other horrendous crimes. Significantly more work, attention and resources need to be dedicated to righting these historical wrongs.
– Nicolas Parkhill
( Photograph: Courtesy of Steve Johnson)