Showing posts with label Sydney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sydney. Show all posts

December 11, 2018

$1 Million Reward on Scott Johnson's Death Determined to be a Gay Hate Crime in Sydney

Scott Johnson's death was determined to have been the result of a gay hate crime.
 Scott Johnson's death was determined to have been the result of a gay hate crime.

A A$1 million (NZ$1.04m) reward and a "fresh eyes" police investigation has been announced into the death of young American Scott Johnson, 30 years to the day since he fell from a cliff in Australia - now deemed to be a gay-hate killing.
Scott's brother Steve Johnson, who never believed the original finding of suicide, had flown to Sydney from the US to stand alongside New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller on Sunday morning and announce the state government's tenfold increase in the reward for information leading to the killer or killers.
"Someone knows what happened to Scott, either because they were present or because they heard of what happened from others who were present," says Johnson, a tech entrepreneur who has spent more than A$1 million of his own money seeking the truth since 2005.
That campaign has thrown the spotlight on dozens of other gay-hate killings and assaults, currently the focus of a NSW upper house parliamentary inquiry, which has discussed the prospect of establishing a judicial commission.
Anglers found the naked body of Scott, a 27-year-old mathematics PhD student, at the base of a 60m cliff near Blue Fish Point, just south of Manly, on the morning of December 10, 1988.
Police now accept the cliff-top area was a gay beat, where men gathered for casual sex, and in November last year the then state coroner Michael Barnes concluded two or more assailants - motivated by hatred of gays - either pushed Scott off the cliff or that he fell while trying to escape. 
Steve Johnson said: "It is likely that those who were involved in Scott's death would have bragged about it given the culture of gay-hate amongst groups in Sydney at the time. It's 30 years to the day since Scott's death. I encourage anyone who has any information to come forward and provide it."
Of more than 240 rewards on offer in NSW, this becomes only the seventh elevated to $1million. Police Minister Troy Grant said: "I hope it finally leads to the answers that Scott's family have been seeking."
Commissioner Fuller said: "Scott's death is possibly one of the most challenging investigations I've seen - and it's believed one of the greatest hindrances has been an unwillingness for witnesses to come forward."
He said the reward could be "that final motivation needed for someone to speak with police".
Detective Chief Inspector Peter Yeomans has since September been leading a specialist investigative team, Strike Force Welsford, which is conducting "fresh inquiries" into the case.
DCI Pamela Young, formerly of the force's Unsolved Homicide Team, led a two-year re-investigation of the case which, in 2015, advised the coroner there was no evidence to support a finding of homicide.
Coroner Barnes demanded her removal from the case following an ABC television interview in which she claimed former police minister Mike Gallacher "kowtowed" to the Johnson family's influence and improperly sought priority for Scott's investigation above hundreds of unsolved homicides.
Gallacher said yesterday: "This announcement vindicates my belief that this case needed a fresh set of eyes."
Barnes, after hearing testimony from a succession of known gay bashers - all denying they killed Scott - was unable to identify any suspects.
Fuller said: "This case captured the attention of people around the world and has certainly stayed in the hearts and minds of the LGBTIQ community, and to keep the investigation progressing, we need people to talk to us."
Johnson pleaded to anyone who knew what happened: "Do this for Scott, do this for all gay men who were subject to gay hate, and now, do it for yourself."

Sydney Morning Herald

This is a follow up story this blog is followed through the years
 Steve Johnson at the site of Scott Johnson’s death, which was part of a pattern of homophobia-driven crimes in the 1980s and ’90s. “This isn’t just about Scott’s case,” Steve Johnson said. “I think all these cases need to be looked at.”CreditMatthew Abbott for The New York Times

November 26, 2018

Brave Teenager Comes Out in Sydney Catholic School Assembly

When Finn Stannard stood up in front of more than 1,500 students and teachers at his Sydney school, it was to say something he’d been weighing up for a long time.
“I have been working towards this speech for four years,” the then 17-year-old revealed to a packed assembly hall at St Ignatius' College, Riverview, earlier this year.
Then he told them all he was gay.  
Finn Stannard
Finn Stannard making his keynote address. 
St Ignatius’ / SBS News
“Announcing yourself to the world is pretty terrifying,” he said in a video of the speech released exclusively through SBS News. “What if the world doesn’t like you?”
Announcing yourself to the world is pretty terrifying.
“Life was easier living as the straight eldest son. I had spent so long behind the façade of a confident, heterosexual man that I wasn’t sure if I knew how to be me.” 
Finn, who has just finished his HSC, now hopes to share his keynote address - written to a younger version of himself - might help “all those people who are lost”, just as he was.
“I think that’s really the biggest reason I made sure I got up onto that stage and gave the speech,” he told SBS News. “I don’t think anybody should have to go through the feeling of loss that I felt like I’d gone through.”
Finn Stannard
Finn has just finished his HSC. 
SBS News
Finn’s speech in June was bookended by at times fierce national debates about sexual orientation, most recently whether religious schools should have the right to discriminate against gay staff and students.
Two of St Ignatius’ most prominent alumni, former prime minister Tony Abbott and his former deputy Barnaby Joyce, were high-profile opponents of same-sex marriage in the lead up to last year’s plebiscite.  
For Finn - who will next year begin university studies to become a secondary school teacher - it was the resounding victory of the Yes vote that gave him the confidence to press ahead with his idea of doing the assembly.
“When the results of the plebiscite came out, that’s when I knew that I could do the speech and it would be alright in the end,” he said.
Finn Stannard
Finn's speech received a standing ovation. 
St Ignatius' principal Paul Hines described Finn’s speech as a “watershed” moment for the college, which wanted to support his decision to publicly share his story and its message of acceptance.
“I'm not sure anyone chooses their sexuality, that's who they are and therefore we need to be open to that and to accept it and to make sure we live in communities of inclusion - and with that will come diversity,” Dr. Hines told SBS News.
We need to make sure we live in communities of inclusion - and with that will come diversity.
“Certainly that's the case in the world beyond so in my view that should be the case in schools.”
Finn, who is quick to acknowledge the support he received from the school, his family and friends, said there was no example of an openly gay student to look to when he was struggling to come to terms with his sexuality as a 13-year-old.
Instead, his speech detailed the toll of “countless rumors and unpleasant jokes”, as well as depression and anxiety compounded by the word “gay” being used as a throwaway playground jibe.
“It was these, seemingly small, yet cumulative experiences that made me feel like I would never be accepted,” he told the room. Finn told the assembly that his own experience demonstrated the importance of asking for help, as well as stepping up to help those in need - a message he hoped would resonate with those coming to terms with any aspect of their identity.
“Being different, whether it’s being gay or being part of another minority group, can be challenging but it does not have to be scary and isolating,” he told the room.
“Every single one of you can help, in your own way, by accepting others for exactly who they are.”
His speech was not the first time the school’s annual ‘friends listen’ assembly has sought to break down taboos. In a 2015 speech that later went viral, school captain Xavier Eales opened up about his battle with depression.
Finn’s mother Megan Stannard, who admits to being concerned about a potential backlash, said the family was instead overwhelmed by the standing ovation the speech received.
“The fact that Finn was supported, the fact that his message was heard - I was in tears,” she said. “I was just so proud of him.”
Finn Stannard
Finn, center, with his boyfriend Tom Moiso, left, and a friend at his school formal. 
Finn Stannard / SBS News
The benefits have continued to flow since. Mrs. Stannard said she has seen a new confidence in her son, as well as a recognition that he can make a difference to others.
“I think that’s any parent’s dream - to see them flourish,” she said. Finn has since been approached by other students at the school who were struggling with their sexuality. And earlier this month he took his boyfriend Tom Moiso, 18, to his school formal.
“I think the best part was seeing all these other people with their dates and not feeling any different,” Finn said.
Anyone needing support can contact Kids helpline: / 1800 55 1800, NSW counseling service, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14. 

December 18, 2014

Gay Man Was the Real thing } I hope the reporting goes that way, Gay people are the most Courageous beings on the Planet

Tori Johnson (Pic: Facebook / Lindt Australia)
The gay man who died during the cafe siege in Sydney has been praised as a hero for his brave efforts to save the hostages.
Tori Johnson, 34, was killed on Tuesday when he wrestled with gunman Man Haron Monis in a bid to allow other hostages to flee.
Monis reportedly shot him in the head at close range as Johnson tried to take the sawed-off shotgun away.
When police stormed the building, Monis was also shot dead.
Another victim, mother-of-three and barrister Katrina Dawson, died in the shoot-out, possibly of a heart attack.
Johnson, who was the manager of the Lindt cafe, is survived by his partner of 14 years, Thomas Zinn.
Johnson’s grieving family said in a statement: “We are so proud of our beautiful boy Tori, gone from this earth but forever in our memories as the most amazing life partner, son and brother we could ever wish for.”
They added: “We feel heartfelt sorrow for the family of Katrina Dawson.”
Steve Loane, CEO of Lindt Australia, said in a statement that Johnson was a much loved and dedicated staff-member.
“By nature he was a perfectionist and he had a genuine passion for the hospitality industry and people. He was a really important part of our management team in Australia and his loss is absolutely tragic,” he said.
Johnson’s bravery is reminiscent of that displayed by another gay man, American Mark Bingham. He is credited with being one of those who fought to save passengers from hijackers aboard a doomed 9/11 flight by rushing the cockpit.
Writing for Huffington Post, James Peron pointed out that while Johnson was a hero, the reality is that he was also a “second class citizen” in Australia, where marriage equality is not yet a reality.
“Tori and his partner of 14 years, Thomas, could never be married, not in Australia. Tori and Thomas deserved the same rights as other Australians. But that right was denied them, and now, for Tori, it’s too late,” he said.
The more than 16-hour-siege of the Sydney CBD cafe left the city and the country in shock.
On Wednesday, Johnson’s family and partner visited the Martin Place pedestrian mall, where thousands have laid flowers and left messages in tribute to the victims.

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