Nicholas Stewart is a partner at the “out loud and proud” LGBTI law firm Dowson Turco Lawyers in Sydney. For the past five years he has been advocating for a parliamentary inquiry into historical LGBTI hate crimes committed in NSW, as well as examining the adequacy of police investigations after complaints about such violent crimes were made.
In September, an inquiry was established for the NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on Social Issues to look at gay and transgender hate crimes that occurred between 1970 and 2010. This is only the beginning of what Stewart says will be a long process of reflection, healing and justice for the LGBTI community in NSW.
Your client Alan Rosendale has been fighting for justice since 1989, when he was bashed at a renowned “gay beat” near South Dowling Street in Sydney. What do you hope the parliamentary inquiry will do for Alan and others like him?
Alan came to us asking for help five years ago and Dowson Turco took his case pro bono. Initially, our role was talking to witnesses, working out what happened and what the NSW Police Force’s response was. We eventually requested the assistance of the NSW Ombudsman to try to obtain a more satisfactory response from the police. Unfortunately, the Ombudsman could only rubber stamp the police response and that was the end of it. I thought, “It can’t stop here. This is not just about Alan, there are many victims of hate crimes, including deceased people, who need justice.”