Police say they will learn from mistakes made during a dark period of Sydney's history in which 27 gay men were likely murdered by homophobic killers and gangs.
They are now calling for fresh information on five unsolved murders while some victims of homophobic violence are asking for an inquiry and apology from a once unsympathetic justice system.
NSW Police on Wednesday released the findings of Strikeforce Parrabell which, in its review of 88 murders, found eight deaths between 1976 and 2000 were, "beyond reasonable doubt", gay-hate crimes.
A further 19 men are strongly suspected to have died in similar targeted attacks while another 25 could not be ruled out, Parrabell concluded.
The violence reached a bloody crescendo in the late 1980s and early 1990s as HIV fuelled a "moral panic" and attackers seemed to strike with the endorsement of an anti-gay society.
Parrabell acknowledged "without qualification both its and society's acceptance" of violence against gay men in that time.
Assistant Commissioner Tony Crandell, speaking at the launch of Parrabell's findings in Sydney, said the vast majority of cases were investigated thoroughly.
But, he added, there had been criticisms of police and if one victim had been denied justice the force "had a case to answer".
"We accept that there were mistakes made," he said.
"We accept there are improvements required. We accept that we can learn from the past and we can do better."
He vowed to never let the city's dark history repeat.
Five of the suspected gay-hate killings remain unsolved and 23 of the 88 cases are back with the unsolved homicide unit.
But police can not move forward unless investigators are given new leads.
"We found that there was no further investigative opportunities to progress any of those cases without fresh information coming forward," Asst Com Crandell said.
Parrabell made 12 recommendations to improve how the force investigates potential gay-hate crimes but Asst Com Crandell admitted it was extremely difficult to "get inside the mind" of offenders and there would be no silver bullet solution.
Peak LGBTIQ body ACON welcomed Parrabell's findings for moving the issue "further down the road" toward justice but backed NSW Labor's calls for a parliamentary inquiry as the next step.
Parrabell stopped short of taking up ACON's recommendation of an apology - but ACON chief executive Nicolas Parkhill said it was important to rebuild trust given the indifference of the justice system during the violent decades.
"At the time our community felt an extraordinary sense of fear," he said.
"There was a real sense within that climate of fear that no one had our backs. We could not rely on police to protect us or deliver us justice if something did happen."
AAP understands police leadership will consider an apology.