Kritchikorn Rattanajurathaporn loved Australia. In frequent letters home to his mother and sister, who lived in a small village in northern Thailand, the 31-year-old Thai citizen stormed about the friendliness of Australians, job opportunities and quality of life. In one of his last letters, the Thai national wrote that he intended to apply to stay in Australia after graduating from university. What he did not mention to his family was that as a gay man he found the Australian lifestyle refreshingly open. This was a place where he could finally be himself.
Rattanajurathaporn had only been in Australia for four months when he was brutally murdered at Mackenzies Point on the southern headland at Bondi on a frigid Friday night in July 1990. He was the third gay homicide victim on clifftops in a year after the disappearance of WIND TV weatherman and newsreader Ross Warren in July 1989 and bartender John Russell in November 1989.
Rattanajurathaporn and his companion were brutally beaten by three youths, one of whom waved a claw hammer. Rattanajurathaporn stumbled along the cliff edge, where dazed from the attack, he slipped over and fell to a ledge several meters below outside the field of view. After some time, he fell to another ledge before falling into the blazing surf below. He was still alive when he hit the water and drowned. Among his personal belongings left at the crime scene were pages from a letter to his mother.
Following the assassination of Rattanajurathaporn, indignation turned to anger among Sydney’s homosexuals, even though his was one of the very few homosexual murders at the time assigned a proper investigation and jail time for his boy killers.
The city was in the throes of an unprecedented wave of crime against homosexuals. In the first six months of 1990, there were three wild, well-informed murders and more than 90 gay bashings, though this figure was probably an understatement as most victims did not go to the police. Rattanajurathaporn’s killing proved to be a turning point for Australia’s LGBTQ community: a sea of angry protesters filled Sydney’s Macquarie Street in front of the state’s parliament building, red paint was spray-painted on eleven city buildings, including the Downing Center Court complex.
There were street patrols of gay volunteers — some of them former members of the Army and Navy — and self-defense courses offered through communities and inner-city gyms. But the gay hate killing would continue.