McNab says that from the late 1970s to the 1990s, 80 gay men died or disappeared in Sydney, most the victims of gay hate crimes. Thirty of those cases remain unsolved, often on account of the refusal of police to investigate properly at the time for reasons of prejudice.
Despite the city’s long tradition of homophobia, it’s a distressing record, given that this was the period when gay men were apparently achieving some sort of recognition and acceptance for the first time. Some were apparently threatened and upset by this, and reacted violently, and the growing openness created opportunities for killers.
It’s a salutary tale, especially as Sydney in this period is often portrayed as a sort of paradise on earth. A reminder of how life can be so different for people who share the same time and place.
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