A permanent memorial artwork recognising the victims of gay hate violence in New South Wales has been given council approval and funding.
From the 1970s to 1990s, many gay men were assaulted, robbed and in some cases murdered along the coastal walk from Sydney’s Bondi Beach to Tamarama (pictured), including at former gay beat Marks Park.
On Tuesday night, Waverley Council approved the memorial, in the form of a public artwork in the park to acknowledge the victims, and committed $100,000 to the project.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said the council’s approval was a major step forward for the Bondi Memorial Project, which the organisation has been working on since 2015.
Parkhill said the memorial was an important part of the response to the “painful legacy” left behind by the wave of anti-gay violence that swept through Sydney in that era.
“ACON has been working with a range of community partners, advocates and the broader LGBTI community on a range of responses to address [this legacy],” he said.
“This grief and trauma continues to impact on our community’s health and wellbeing today.”
Last month, a New South Wales parliamentary inquiry into historical gay and transgender hate crimes was announced to shine a further light on these tragic events.
The inquiry came after the release of two reports into unsolved murders from the period, one by NSW Police and the other by ACON.
Submissions to the parliamentary inquiry can be made through the NSW Parliament’s website until November 7.
The Bondi Memorial Project also received a philanthropic donation of $64,000 from Sydney gay couple Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg.
“There is growing momentum in the community towards achieving healing and justice for victims and survivors of these violent crimes,” Parkhill said.
“These people were someone’s family member, loved one, partner and friend. Many of these cases remain unsolved, and those left behind deserve healing and closure.
“Measures such as the inquiry and the memorial will go a long way in honouring the victims of these terrible acts and sending out a beacon of hope for all victims of bias motivated crimes.”
Waverley Mayor John Wakefield said the council and ACON would work on an agreement to formalise the project before it moves to commissioning an artist.
“It’s been too long in recognising these terrible events from our not-so-distant past,” Mayor Wakefield said.
“Finally, we will have a permanent reminder by which we can pay respect to these men, their families, friends and the LGBTI community.”