Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter December 21, 2007

Recently, our newsletters have had a noteworthy quote each month. This month we found two quotes that are worth sharing.
The first quote is about routine reality that faces the lives of trans-identified people. Transgender and transsexual people face staggering levels of hate. “We live under the constant threat of horrifying violence. We have to worry about what bathroom to use when our bladders are aching. We are forced to consider whether we’ll be dragged out of a bahtroom and arrested or face a fistfight while our bladders are still achinging. It’s an everyday reality for us. Human beings must use toilets.” L. Feinberg (1998, p. 68) cited in: Dana Finnegan and Emily McNally. Counseling Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Substance Abusers: Dual Identities. New York: Haworth Press, 2002. Available from Haworth Press.
"If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn't worship that God." Archbishop Desmond Tutu quoted in “Tutu Chides Church for Gay Stance.” British Broadcasting Corporation article.
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Hatred against women and against female sex trade workers is a very serious problem. The high rate of violence against women and female sex trade workers should be of concern to police, prosecutors, legislators, and the general populace.

Recently, a high-profile Canadian case of violence against female sex-trade workers caught the news headlines again. Between 1978 and 2001, a Vancouver Sun article says 65 women from the east downtown Vancouver area went missing. Robert Pickton was charged with killing 26 women. The police are investigating other murders. Pickton’s first court case was for the deaths of six women. A CanWest, Vancouver Sun article reports Robert Pickton was sentenced to 25 years in prison, without parole, for killing six women. A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article cites the judge, Justice James Williams, as saying, “The women who were murdered, each of them, were members of our community . . . Each of them found themselves in positions of extreme vulnerability. They were persons who were in the ugly grasp of substance abuse and addictions, persons who were selling their bodies to strangers in order to survive." One of the better sources of information about the sex-trade murders and Robert Pickton’s trial is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. On the CBC web site, one can find numerous background articles.

While Robert Pickton was not convicted of first degree murder, and was only sentenced to 25 years in prison, Canadian law has provisions that could keep him in jail for the rest of his life. Should the Crown successfully seek dangerous offender status from the courts, Pickton could be held in jail indefinitely.

Unfortunately, Canada is not the only place where women and where sex trade workers are in physical danger. In recent newsletters, we shared Amnesty International concerns regarding violence against Native Alaskan women. The level of violence against women is high enough to be a matter of international concern.

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In 2001, Aaron Webster, a gay man, was murdered. The circumstances of the murder stink of a hate crime. But none of the people involved in his murder were ever charged with a hate crime. Aaron Webster's cousin, Denise Norman, has been fighting for justice. In an article, "Parole Is An Easy Way Out Of Jail," appearing on the Real Justice web site, Denise Norman tells Aaron Webster's story, the sentence given, Ryan Cran, the only adult convicted in connection with Aaron Webster's killing, and efforts to ensure Aaron's loved ones could be heard at Ryan Cran's parole hearing. A simple memorial page for Aaron Webster can be found on the Stop Hate web site.

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Partly due to the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC some people have a distorted view of Islam. They have come to associate Islam with terrorist attacks, suicide bombers, and the death of many Israelis. Islam is not a religion dominated by terrorists and extremists. A You Tube video titled “I am a Muslim” helps reduce some of the stereotypes against Islam. A video about Islamic women and the hijab can also be found on You Tube.
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For many years, gay people were discriminated against, because people believed homosexuality was a mental illness. In 1973, homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. For years after homosexuality was no longer classified as a mental illness many people still considered gay people to be mentally ill and to be defective. Some trans-identified people feel gender identity disorder should no longer be classified as a mental illness.

The November 20, 2007 issue of The Advocate magazine has an article about removing gender identity disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The article “What’s Up Doc?” discusses the advantages and disadvantages for trans-identified people of having the condition gender identity disorder removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Of the advantages listed for removing gender identity disorder from the list of mental illnesses, reduced stigma is probably the most attractive reason. Those who wish gender identity disorder to remain in the list of mental illnesses make a very valid point when they note that insurance companies may decline to fund surgical or hormonal treatments unless there is a mental illness.

We appreciate The Advocate taking on a very controversial issue. The issue is very important, because trans-identified people are one of the most discriminated against minority groups in society. The level of violence in hate crimes against the trans community is staggering. Society needs to discuss issues of discrimination and hatred against the trans-identified community.
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We have members and readers around the world. For that reason, we hesitate to give extensive coverage to the campaigns for the Democratic and Republican candidates for the United States Presidency. Once again, gay rights appears as an election issue. Hillary Clinton is cited as being in favor of civil unions. For some gay and bisexual people, civil unions are adequate. For other people in the queer community, civil unions are not a satisfactory option.

Language is important. Selecting a minority group and not allowing members of that minority group to get married, but allowing civil union status is clearly discrimination. While many people would instantly recognize that civil union is a state-sanctioned form of prejudice and discrimination, if members of visible minority groups were only allowed civil unions, they are not able to see how it is a form of prejudice and discrimination when it applies to the queer community.

Political and religious leaders are going to find it increasingly difficult to portray same-sex marriages as a major step toward the immediate destruction of the United States. Some European countries have allowed same-gender marriages for a few years. Canada allows same-sex marriages. Europe and Canada have not faced political, ethical, spiritual, or social unrest and disaster since allowing same-sex marriages.

Civil union sounds like a second-rate poor second-cousin to marriage. Providing legal rights, while using language that shows both prejudice and discrimination, is not satisfactory. The question gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identified people, and their allies is if they are prepared to accept civil union as a interim step toward fuller equality.
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Hate is not a spiritual value. The three major world monotheistic religions of the world, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam do not value hate. Unfortunately, some people have used religion as an excuse to discriminate against people, to assault people, and to kill. These actions are not in harmony with the beliefs of major world religions and are not supported by the vast majority of clergy and spiritual leaders.

Because some people of faith do not accept gay, bisexual, or trans-identified people, queer people may struggle quite a bit to reconcile their faith with their sexuality. Straight people also struggle to reconcile their faith with the fact that some of their friends and loved ones are queer. Many affirming straight and gay Christians are speaking out. We are also seeing queer and straight Jews and Muslims speaking in support of queer affirming faith. There are a number of very affirming Christian You Tube videos. Re: I’m a Gay Christian - Coming Out Video helps document the existence of gay Christians. The video Gay Christian power exposing truths and lies (Leviticus out) offers alternative interpretations of Leviticus. The video Eternal Same-Sex Attraction helps show how universal religious principles support being tolerant and loving toward gay people. An Advocate article tells about a documentary film A Jihad for Love produced about gay Muslims. This film may help people better the wide diversity present in Islam. The documentary is described as the world’s first documentary on Islam and homosexuality. Information about the documentary can be found on the Jihad for Love blog site.
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A few stories we’ve been following appear below:

•The trend toward local governments recognizing queer rights continues. We might be seeing a grassroots trend toward the protection of gay rights, with civic governments having the will and the backbone to do what some state and federal governments are not doing. The Advocate News system has stories about Scottsdale, Arizona passing workplace protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identified civic employees. Dayton, Ohio passed a law adding gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of people protected by anti-discrimination legislation.

Hate crime statistics are important. They give us the temperature or the pulse of hate. Unfortunately, hate crimes in the United States are very much alive! The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported on hate crimes for the year 2006. An Advocate article indicates hate crimes against gay people increased in 2006. The article notes the percentage of hate crimes against gay people increased from 14 to 16 percent of the total of “documented” cases of hate crimes in the United States. The Advocate article indicates hate crimes based on a person’s sexual orientation is the third most common form of hate crime. Crimes based on a person’s race and religion are the two most common forms of hate crimes in the United States.

According to an Advocate article, Darrell Madden, who is alleged to be a white supremacist, was charged with the murder of Oklahoma man Steven Domer.

Ireland is planning on introducing legislation that will allow for same-sex civil unions. Additional information about the proposed law can be read on the PlanetOut web site.

Michael Sandy, age 29, is thought to have been lured into a lot. He was beaten by four men. From news reports, we gather Michael Sandy ran into the road to get away from the attackers, where he was hit by a car. Sandy died of his injuries. One of the men, Ilya Shurov, pleaded guilty to manslaughter. More details about the case can be found in an Advocate news story.

A gay Scotland council worker, James Kerr, was beaten to death by three youth. One of those youth, David Meehan, age 19, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his part in the hate crime. An article about the crime can be read at PlanetOut.

The Matthew Shepard Act, proposed legislation to extend hate crimes protection to cover sexual orientation and gender identity, was removed from the final version of a defense authorization bill. This means there is no federal hate crimes protection of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identified people in the United States. We are very disappointed The Matthew Shepard Act did not become law. Information about The Matthew Shepard Act can be found on the Matthew Shepard Foundation web site.

An internet video on topics related to hate appears below:

ABC News story about bullying. The video interviews experts, who explain some of the causes of bullying.

Anybody with news about hate crimes or discrimination is welcome to email us.

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