Gay, Lesbian andTransgender Hate Crimes - INTRODUCTION

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APRIL 2005

Allen George and Stephen Tomsen of Newcastle University have written the introduction. Their extensive research into the topics of homophobia and hate crimes have been published in books and journal articles. After the introduction is a bibliography and below that further reading on the subject.

Violence and harassment against gay men and lesbians has been an issue of growing concern in Australia since the late 1980s. While violence and discrimination against homosexuals was not a new phenomenon, an organised response to it by activist groups and government agencies is. In New South Wales, the Gay and Lesbian Right Lobby produced the Streetwatch Report (Cox 1990), which highlighted the nature of harassment and violence experienced in the everyday lives of gay men and lesbians. One recommendation of this report was to set-up an organisation dedicated to monitoring and addressing issues on violence, the Lesbian and Gay Anti-violence Project (AVP).

In Victoria, the group Gay Men and Lesbians Against Discrimination produced a report, Not a Day Goes By, which found that of the 1002 people surveyed (492 women and 510 men):

70% of lesbians and 69% of gay men reported being verbally abused, threatened or bashed in a public space [at some time]. Bashing alone had been experienced by 11% of lesbians and 20% of gay men. (Gay Men and Lesbians Against Discrimination (GLAD) 1994, p. 5)

These figures highlight the extent to which lesbians and gay men were harassed and physically assaulted due to homosexuality.

Similar results were found in New South Wales from the Out of the Blue survey conducted by the New South Wales Police Service in 1994 (Sandroussi & Thompson 1995). Of the 259 respondents 57% had experienced some form of personal or property crime or harassment in the twelve month leading up to the survey, with 12% of lesbians and 14% of gay men experiencing physical assault (Sandroussi & Thompson 1995, p. 8). Not surprisingly, the level of fear of being attacked was very high, with 90% of these gay men and lesbians being ‘very concerned’ that they or their friends might be assaulted. This figure was far higher than that found in a survey of the general community where 56% of people were concerned or very concerned that they or their family might be assaulted (Sandroussi & Thompson 1995, p. 7). A similar survey to Out of the Blue conducted in New South Wales by the Attorney General’s Department in 2003 found equally high levels of physical assault and harassment, with 56% reporting they experienced one or more forms of homophobic abuse, harassment or violence during the past twelve months and 85% experiencing such homophobic behaviours over their lifetime (NSW Attorney General's Department - Crime Prevention Division 2003, p. 57). Only a few transgender people were included in most of these reports and the levels of harassment and violence experienced by this group requires more study.

The killing of gay men has also come under scrutiny. A study conducted in New South Wales has found that 74 gay and homosexually oriented men have been killed between the years 1980-2000 in that state (Tomsen 2002). The two most common scenarios for these deaths were: an attack in a public space (usually at a beat) by a group of young males numbering from three to eight, and in the residence of the victim as a result of a dispute or a claimed sexual advance. One factor that marks these killings off from others was the very high levels of violence inflicted on the victim, violence that is ‘hands on’, with the use of fists, feet and heavy objects or a knife. These attacks can be described as frenzied (sometimes up to 60 stab wounds). Similar killings have been noted in most states of Australia.

The term ‘hate crime’ has been adopted by some researchers and lesbian and gay activists to describe such violence. Hate crime is commonly defined by criminologists as:

…crime, most commonly violence, motivated by prejudice, bias or hatred towards a particular group of which the victim is presumed to be a member. As such, hate crime is generally directed towards a class of people; the individual victim is rarely significant to the offender and is most commonly a stranger to him or her. (Mason 1993, p. 1)

Motivation for hate crimes directed against lesbians and gay men is usually attributed to homophobia (Weinberg 1972).

Other researchers have noted shortcomings with the term hate crime. Ascribing homophobia as a motivating cause suggests a perpetrator(s) is suffering a type of psychological condition. It has been noted that some perpetrators involved in crimes against gay men and lesbians derive satisfaction, increased self-esteem and increased social standing with their peers for such actions (Herek 1984, 1992). Furthermore, homophobia as a motivator focuses on the individualist rather than the social and cultural context that produces ‘homophobic’ individuals (Tomsen 2002). The motivation in hate crimes against lesbians is more complex than just ‘homophobia’ as an explanation. Lesbians often report they are not sure if their assault was homophobic in nature or whether it was motivated by anti-female, or misogynistic, hatred (Mason 2002). (For a broader discussion on other conceptual difficulties with the term hate crime, see the Introduction of Faces of Hate: Hate Crime in Australia (Cunneen, Fraser & Tomsen 1997))

Violence and harassment against gay men and lesbians, whether it be a hate crime or not, has become a noted social problem which is being addressed by gay and lesbian activists and government. Some states in Australia have dedicated community groups that address the issue, such as the Anti-Violence Project (AVP). The AVP provides assistance to individual victims and it produces educational material on violence avoidance. Some state police forces have programs tailored specifically to respond to the policing needs of lesbians and gay men. These innovations have made real progress in addressing anti-lesbian and anti-gay crime. But for this response to be continued, activist groups require gay and lesbian community support and government needs to be lobbied to develop, maintain and expand services for the lesbian and gay communities they serve.

Dr Stephen Tomsen, University of Newcastle

Allen George, University of Newcastle


Cox, Gary 1990, The Streetwatch Report: A Study into Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men, 1-3, Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Sydney.

Cunneen, Chris, Fraser, David & Tomsen, Stephen (eds.) 1997, Faces of Hate: Hate Crime in Australia, Hawkins Press, Sydney.

Gay Men and Lesbians Against Discrimination (GLAD) 1994, Not a Day Goes By, Melbourne.

Herek, Gregory. M 1984, 'Beyond homophobia: A social psychological perspective on attitudes towards lesbians and gay men', Journal of Homosexuality, vol. 10, no. 1-2, pp. 1-21.

---- 1992, 'The social context of hate crimes: Notes on cultural heterosexism', in GM Herek & KT Berrill (eds.), Hate Crimes: Confronting Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men, Sage, Newbury Park, California.

Mason, Gail 1993, 'Violence against lesbians and gay men', Violence Prevention Series, no. 2.

---- 2002, The Spectacle of Violence: Homophobia, Gender and Knowledge, Routledge, London.

NSW Attorney General's Department - Crime Prevention Division 2003, 'You Shouldn't Have to Hide to be Safe': A Report on Homophobic Hostilities and Violence Against Gay Men and Lesbians in New South Wales, NSW Attorney General's Department, Sydney.

Sandroussi, Jewly & Thompson, Sue 1995, Out of the Blue: A Police Survey of Violence and Harassment against Gay Men and Lesbian, New South Wales Police Service, Sydney.

Tomsen, Stephen 2002, Hatred, Murder and Male Honour: Anti-Homosexual Homicides in New South Wales, 1980-2000, 43, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra.

Weinberg, George 1972, Society and the Healthy Homosexual, St. Martin's Press, New York.

Further reading

Asquith, Nicole & Grant, Bruce 1995, A Profile of the Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project, Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project, Sydney.

Baird, Barbara 1997, 'Putting police on notice: A South Australian case study', in G Mason & S Tomsen (eds.), Homophobic Violence, Hawkins Press, Leichhardt, pp. 118-31.

Baird, Barbara, Mason, K & Purcell, I 1994, The Police and You, Lesbian & Gay Community Action, Adelaide.

Comstock, Gary David 1991, Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men, Between Men~Between Women Lesbian and Gay Studies, Columbia University Press, New York.

Cox, Gary 1994, The Count & Counter Report: A Study Into Hate Related Violence Against Lesbians and Gays, Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project, Sydney.

George, Allen 1997, 'The gay (?) victim on trial: Discourses of sexual division in the courtroom', in G Mason & S Tomsen (eds.), Homophobic Violence, The Hawkins Press, Leichhardt, NSW, pp. 46-57.

Griffin, Jacqui 1997, 'Anti-lesbian/gay violence in schools', in G Mason & S Tomsen (eds.), Homophobic Violence, Hawkins Press, Sydney.

Jenness, Valerie & Broad, Kendal 1997, Hate Crimes: New Social Movements and the Politics of Violence, Social Problems and Social Issues, Aldine De Gruyter, New York.

Johnson, Peter 1996, ''More than ordinary men gone wrong': Can the law know the gay subject?', Melbourne University Law Review, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 949-1240.

Lowe, Anthea & Steetwatch Committee 1994, Final Report of the Streetwatch Implementation Advisory Committee, 3-3, Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales, Sydney.

Mason, Angela & Palmer, Anya 1996, Queer Bashing: A National Survey of Hate Crimes Against Lesbians and Gay Men, Stonewall, London.

Mott, Luiz Roberto 1996, Epidemic of Hate: Violations of the Human Rights of Gay Men, Lesbians, and Transvestites in Brazil, Grupo Gay da Bahia, Brazil and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Salvador Bahia, Brazil.

Plummer, David 1999, One of the Boys: Masculinity, Homophobia, and Modern Manhood, Harrington Park Press, New York.

Rothchild, Carole 1997, 'Don't frighten the horses! A systematic perspective on violence against lesbians and gay men', in G Mason & S Tomsen (eds.), Homophobic violence, Hawkins Press, Sydney.

Schembri, Anthony. M. 1992, The Off Our Backs Report: A Study into Anti-Lesbian Violence, Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project & Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Inc, Darlinghurst, Sydney.

Thompson, Sue 1997, 'Hate crimes against gays and lesbians: The New South Wales police response', in G Mason & S Tomsen (eds.), Homophobic Violence, Hawkins Press, Sydney.

Tomsen, Stephen 1993, 'The political contradictions of policing and countering anti-gay violence in New South Wales', Current Issues in Criminal Justice, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 209-15.

---- 1997a, 'Was Lombroso a queer? Criminology, criminal justice and the heterosexual imaginary', in G Mason & S Tomsen (eds.), Homophobic Violence, Hawkins Press, Sydney.

---- 1997b, 'Sexual identity and victimhood in gay-hate murder trials', in C Cunneen, D Fraser & S Tomsen (eds.), Faces of hate: hate crime in Australia, Hawkins Press, Sydney, pp. 97-114.

---- 2001, 'Queer and safe: Combating violence with gentrified sexual identities', in C Johnston & P van Reyk (eds.), Queer City: Gay and Lesbian Politics in Sydney, Pluto Press, Sydney, pp. 229-40.

Tomsen, Stephen & George, Allen 1997, 'The criminal justice response to gay killings: Research findings', Current Issues in Criminal Justice, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 56-70.

Tomsen, Stephen & Mason, Gail 2001, 'Engendering homophobia: Violence, sexuality and gender conformity', Journal of Sociology, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 257-73.

Van de Ven, Paul, Kippax, Susan, Crawford, June, Race, Kane & Rodden, Pamela 1998, 'Homophobic and HIV-related abuse and discrimination experienced by gay and homosexually active men in an Australian national sample', The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 141-59.

Willett, Graham 2000, Living Out Loud: A History of Gay and Lesbian Activism in Australia, Allen & Unwin, Sydney.

Wotherspoon, Garry 1991, City and the Plain: History of a Gay Sub-Culture, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney.


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This paper has been brought about to try and put together some comprehensive documentation showing how homophobia proceeds to gay and lesbian hate crimes.

Australian statistics, as far as can be ascertained in the research I have completed to date, show some alarming trends. Homophobia seems to be on the rise nationally and internationally, and although this is an endeavour to illustrate the Australian picture, statistics from countries around the world are shown to be equally alarming, and a picture will be shown of international homophobia and sexuality-related hate crimes.

What led to this paper's existence was a discovery, on the web, of a site called IN MEMORIAM, compiled by someone in the USA who had been alarmed at what was happening there after the murders of Matthew Shepard and Billy Jack Gaither, two of the most brutal murders in recent years, and the repercussions of which are seeing many states and the US Federal Government putting together legislation to deal with hate crimes.

Homophobia has to be the starting point of any such investigation, because it is due to homophobia that most of the gay and lesbian hate crimes are committed.

Homophobia is a social disease which has social, political and economic ramifications. Some of these are easily identified, others are more difficult.

From homophobia the paper goes on to look at gay and lesbian hate crime murders in Australia, and this has recently been highlighted by a paper produced by the Australian Institute of Criminology in conjunction with the NSW Police Service. This document, "GAY-HATE RELATED HOMICIDES: AN OVERVIEW OF MAJOR FINDINGS IN NEW SOUTH WALES" by Jenny Mouzos and Sue Thompson covers a period ten years from 1990 to 2000.

However, in periods before that, gay, lesbian and transgender hate crimes were being committed but not being necessarily identified as such.

Overseas incidents of gay, lesbian and transgender hate crimes are discussed so that comparisons are able to be made. The horrific murders of recent times are reviewed in some detail - both national and international.

The paper concludes with calls on gay, lesbian and transgender communities in Australia and around the world to become politically active and shed so much of the apathy of recent years which has seen the rabid religious right try to push us back into our closets.

(File opened 14 June 2000)


The rabid religious right round the world have major, if not total responsibility, for homophobia which is a social disease and is of epidemic proportions around the world. Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions, all stemming from the same initial beliefs, have fostered the theories about homosexuals in their - and our - communities, for the last 6000 years at least.

William Shakespeare has Mark Antony saying to the massed crowds after the murder of Julius Caesar: "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interred with their bones; So let it be with Caesar."

Well, I have come to bury religion, not to praise it. Being Jewish, gay and geriatric, I have come to the realisation that one of the greatest difficulties confronting us in our communities is to educate people as to what is, and what is not, acceptable. We are conditioned from birth to have certain beliefs and practices, and we find it very difficult to alter them at various stages of our lives.

One of the worst diseases we, as gays, lesbians and transgender people have had to learn to live with is homophobia. When we have the highest lawmakers of the land being so prejudiced that their judgements are impaired, we have to despair of justice being done and being seen to be done.

Cliches? Maybe, but all of us have to be ever vigilant and ensure that we can educate at every level as often as possible wherever we go and with whatever people we are involved with in all our communities.

Racism, sexism, homophobia - ever present and ever dangerous. As they say in the boy scouts movement, "be prepared"!!!

Mannie De Saxe Casual/Part time Unemployed TAFE TA Canterbury-Bankstown Assoc. Member no. 66011

Letter to Editor Education 13 July 2000


Homophobia is a social disease. Some diseases can be cured, some can be treated, and some can not be cured.

Homophobia can be cured, but as it is so widespread throughout the world, there are various strategies that need to be put in place in order to combat its spread, nip it in the bud and eradicate it from the face of the earth as was done with smallpox.

Part of the cure is education - education of all those who are responsible for spreading this pernicious disease.

Amongst those requiring education are our teachers. Educate the educators, teach the teachers.

The module which teaches about homosexuality is not compulsory as is the module that teaches about racism. As a consequence, those teachers - and schools - which do not use the module are liable to ignore the problems of homosexual students and teacher, or those perceived to be homosexual, and place their wellbeing in jeopardy. Many are driven to suicide or thoughts of suicide because there is no support system or strategy to help people in this situation.

Not so long ago a student challenged his school because of problems relating to his homosexuality, and not too many people emerged from the conflict unscathed.

The worst terms of abuse used in this - and no doubt other - countries are poofter and lezzo - used not only in school playgrounds but in offices, workplaces, the streets, in fact everywhere.

As a consequence of the use of these words - encouraged by parents and others in positions of authority who ought to know better, many gays and lesbians, or those perceived to be gay or lesbian, are routinely bashed, physically and mentally, and in some cases leading to murder.

The NSW Education Department and the schools it administers are all guilty of poofter bashing, directly or indirectly and the consequences are dire for young people trying to come to terms with their sexuality which is different from the accepted heterosexual "norm".

The NSW Teachers Federation is just as responsible for this ongoing disease, because so many teachers are homophobic and make no effort to disguise their homophobia.

In order to start curing homophobia the NSWTF needs to start - now - educating its members so that there are role models for the young students at an early age, to know that poofter bashing is wrong. As well, courses need to be run for parents of all children, not just the bashers, to stop them using poofter and lezzo as the first words of abuse that come to mind when they get annoyed.

When these things start to happen, we will have started on the long, hard road, to curing homophobia in Australia - and around the world.

Mannie De Saxe (Member of Lesbian and Gay Solidarity)


A document has been compiled as a kit to assist local governments in NSW deal with issues of sexual minorities in their communities. InterSection, the group responsible for the production of the kit, has been working on the issue of direct and indirect homophobia in local government areas for the last five years. The kit deals with ways to address homophobia when it becomes apparent that there are problems because of the lack of access and equity in relation to gays and lesbians in each local government area. The document is in draft form and the group hopes to complete it by the end of 2000 and to make it available as a resource in local libraries and other areas where information can be accessed. This will hopefully include putting it on the web as well.

Research into gay, lesbian and transgender hate crimes in Australia, leading to murder, has been comprehensively documented, but more needs to be done. Gay and lesbian anti-violence projects (AVP) exist in some states, and although the AVP in New South Wales has newspaper cuttings and other items recording murders, these do not seem to have been assembled into a comprehensive document by the AVP.

It is possible that further research will assist us to provide documentation to mount a comprehensive fight against homophobia with ongoing positive outcomes.

This documentation will be in the form of a chronology as far as possible.

8 November 2004

On 8 November 2004 the Education Journal of the New South Wales Teachers Federation published a review on page 20 by Frank Barnes of "You Shouldn't Have to Hide to be Safe", listed in the Bibliography and Recommended Reading List link below. Frank Barnes is an organiser in Western Sydney and he also recommends a book from La Trobe University called "Safety in our Schools - strategies for responing to Homophobia."

Here is the review in full:

You shouldn't have to hide to be safe - reducing homophobic hostilities and violence in our schools requires action, writes FRANK BARNES.

The level of violence against gay and lesbian communities has changed little in the past 10 years, a new report shows.

You Shouldn't Have to Hide to be Safe was commissioned by the NSW Attorney General's Department on behalf of a network of government agencies called Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgender Issues.

This was the first major study since the 1995 Out of the Bluesurvey and key findings of the report are that:

* 56 per cent of lesbians and gay men have experienced homophobia or violence in the past 12 months
* 85 per cent of lesbians and gay men have experienced harassment or violence during their lifetime
* one in four report being physically attacked at sometime in their life.

Homophobic hostilities and violence in our schools

It is obvious that if we are to make some changes in how we view homophobia in our society then part of that change in attitude has to happen through programs in our schools. It is not satisfactory that organisations like Twenty 10 which provides information, support and local referrals to young gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people and their families has to help up to 250 gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender young people who are homeless or are having problems at home, in any one year.

I realise how difficult it is to fit supporting programs into our schools and I realise how difficult it is to have whole school programs that deal with such sensitive issues and I also realise that the Department of Education and Training has very little in the way of supportive material. That is why I am going to use this opportunity to give you some other places where you can find this material.

Let's start with the Federation library. The Library Bulletin on gay and lesbian issues has 40 to 50 books and references. These are very rarely accessed and it is a pity because that is what our library is for. The library is open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. You can phone through the switch or directly on (02)9217 2113 or email

Twenty 10's website is and Contact Details are: Twenty 10 GLBT Youth Support: NSW Regional Freecall 1800 652 010; Sydney Metro Support Line (02) 8594 9555

The AIDS Council of NSW which hosts the Anti-Violence Project is at with links to the Anti-Homophobia and The Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project.

The Tasmanian Education has two great websites: Challenging Homophobia at and Working it Out at

If you wish to read the report you can access it through the ACON website. Another worthwhile website belongs to the gay activist Rodney Croome at AUSTRALIAN MARRIAGE EQUALITY PROJECT

If you are a gay or lesbian teacher it is not your responsibility to take on gay and lesbian issues at your school. It is everybody's responsibility and if you would like to be in communication with other gay and lesbian teachers you can do so through the Federation Gay & Lesbian Special Interest Group of which I am the convenor. To get on this list simply contact me at the Federation office at Blacktown on (02) 9622 9201 and I will arrange for you to join our group.

Frank Barnes is an Organiser in Western Sydney and he also recommends a book from La Trobe University called "Safety in our Schools - strategies for responding to Homophobia."

HOMOPHOBIA PART 5a - Same Sex Marriage Issues Part 1
HOMOPHOBIA PART 5b - Same Sex Marriage Issues Part 2
HOMOPHOBIA PART 5c - Same Sex Marriage Issues Part 3
HOMOPHOBIA PART 5d - Same Sex Marriage Issues Part 4
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - PREFACE
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - CHAPTER 1 - AUSTRALIAN 1971-1980
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - CHAPTER 2 - AUSTRALIAN 1981-1990
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - CHAPTER 3 - AUSTRALIAN 1991-2000
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - CHAPTER 4 - AUSTRALIAN 2001-2010
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - CHAPTER 5 - AUSTRALIAN 2011-2020
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - INTERNATIONAL - Part - 1 A to I
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - INTERNATIONAL - Part 2 - J to S
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - INTERNATIONAL - Part 3 - T to Z





Mannie also has a personal web site, which may be found by clicking on the link: RED JOS: HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISM

Mannie's blogs may be accessed by clicking on to the following links:

MannieBlog (from 1 August 2003 to 31 December 2005)

Activist Kicks Backs - Blognow archive re-housed - 2005-2009

RED JOS BLOGSPOT (from January 2009 onwards)

This page updated 28 OCTOBER 2012 and again on 9 NOVEMBER 2016

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