Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter May 11, 2007

This could be one of our longer newsletters. The last month has seen a number of important developments.

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We would like to apologize for an error in our last month's newsletter. We incorrectly stated that The Ex-Gay Survivors Conference was a religious event. The Conference is not a religious event. We are announcing the event again, because we feel it is important for members of minority groups to confront the societal self-hate they've internalized. Self-hate is one of the worst and one of the most silent types of "hate crimes." Some people who experienced ex-gay therapy felt intense self-hate. A conference is being held in California for people who received ex-gay therapy or were part of ex-gay ministries.

Two activist groups Soulforce and Beyond Ex-Gay are joining forces to host The Ex-Gay Survivors Conference: Undoing the Damage Affirming our Lives Together. The conference is being held June 29 to July 1 at the University of California - Irving. Information about the conference can be found on the conference web page.

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A variety of news sources were consulted in an attempt to provide maximum information about the murders of three protestants in Turkey. The sources of news include secular western, Middle-Eastern, Turkish, and Christian internet news sites.

British Broadcasting Corporation internet news service reports on the arrests of ten people in Turkey in connection with the murders of three protestant Christians. A Christianity Today article identifies the victims as 36 year old Necati Aydin, 32 year old Ugur Yuksel, and 46 year old Tilmann Geske. The Christians murdered were employees of a publishing company that prints Bibles. The BBC news article states the murdered people were found with their hands and legs tied, and their throats cut. A Gulf Times news article reports that the men were "interrogated" about "missionary" work and were "tortured" for three hours. The Catholic World News service also reports torture. According to the Catholic World News article, Tilmann Geske had "156 knife wounds." The Gulf Times article says, "Proselytising is not banned in Muslim, secular Turkey, but is generally viewed with suspicion."

An Associated Press article, on the CBS News system web site, indicates fear of outsiders has increased due to Turkey's "faltering" attempt to enter the European Union, Kurdish separatists, and some Islamic people who feel they are locked in a battle against a "hostile Christian West." A Fox News article indicates the murders took place in the same city that was the home town of the man who tried to murder Pope John Paul II. That region of Turkey is called a "hotbed of Turkish nationalism." The Fox article states a Turkish newspaper said some of the suspects said the Christians were murdered to protect Islam. An Associated Press article on the CNN International web site outlines a few other attacks against Christians in Turkey in the last year. The case of a priest, who was murdered when saying prayers in church, the murder of a well-known Armenian Christian editor, and threats against priests are mentioned in the article.

An article in the Turkish Daily News, written by Ziya Meral, a Turkish Christian, is interesting reading. While the article may have a Christian bias, the article gives a few possible insights into the source of the violence. In the article, Meral traces a feeling of suspicion of non-Muslims to "bitter" experiences with European powers and non-Islamic minorities during the ending of the Ottoman Empire. Meral observes modern Turkey feels she is under " . . . the same imminent inner and outer threat, which the Ottoman Empire was under before and after WWI." Meral feels " . . . every non-Muslim is viewed as a potential traitor and conspirator . . . "

Stabbing people over and over again is a trade-mark in many hate crimes. Given the news reports, we believe the murders are likely to have been hate crimes.

Fear is often in the background, in the history of prejudice, discrimination, and hatred. There are causes for fear. The emotion does not develop all by itself. Because fear is such a powerful emotion, we need to look beyond our fears to try to see the humanity in people who are members of different racial, ethnic, sexuality, or religious groups.

World religions have lasting appeal. The appeal of all of the world religions has kept the religions alive through centuries of secular influence, and through periods of discrimination. We appeal to people of all religious groups to understand the deep strength of their religion and to not shed blood in the name of religion.

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An Associated Press article found on the ChicagoSports.Com web site reports a University of Pennsylvania study that found racial composition of National Basketball Association officials made a difference in foul calls. White referees, as a group, tended to call more foul plays against black players. Black referees, as a group, tended to call more fouls against white players. The study, which reviewed data over thirteen seasons, found the racial makeup of the referees "affected calls by up to 4 percent."

The study is very controversial and is not supported by the National Basketball Association. An NBA study does not support the conclusion reached by the university researchers.

We will not enter into the debate as to which study is correct. We will make a few general comments that are not related to the study about the NBA. Racism, prejudice, and discrimination are very subtle. Even the most open-minded people, who regularly search their hearts to ensure they are being fair to everybody, regardless of their background, can unintentionally favor one group over another. Many organizations have fought very hard to give all people equality, yet they may find that equality has not been obtained. As individuals, as corporations, as volunteer organizations, and as religious organizations, we need to review our actions and our policies to ensure we are attempting to minimize the impact of prejudice and discrimination.

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A Winnpeg (Canada) Free Press article posted on the web site Mike On Crime tells the story of a black man who was badly beaten in an attack. The victim of the beating, Sagin Bali, a well-known person in the Winnipeg Sudanese community, reports the attacker made "ethnic slurs." Bali, is cited as saying the man who assaulted him used the term "black monkey," and said to the effect that there are too many black people here. The Free Press article gives on the impression the judge believed the victim's story about racist comments.

According to the article, the judge found it difficult to believe that the man guilty of the assault would have committed a hate crime, because he is aboriginal and would know what discrimination is like. The article indicates the defense attorney claims a person cannot be charged with a hate crime in Canada unless there is a "history of racial bias and evidence that he sought out a person of a specific race."

The portion of the criminal code of Canada we found on the internet does not appear to place that restriction on the ability to increase a person's sentence under hate crimes provisions. The wording from subsection 718.2 of the criminal code of Canada can be found in a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article about hate crimes.

There are a few concerns with this news report. The first is what seems to be a very naive view on part of the judge. People of all racial and ethnic backgrounds can be racist. Just because a person experienced discrimination it does not mean a person is not going to engage in discrimination. The second concern is how the Criminal Code of Canada is interpreted. Should a conviction under hate crimes provisions require a history of racial bias, it could be difficult for a person to ever be convicted. There is always a first time for violent racial bias. This way of interpreting the Criminal Code could serve to make void almost all of the hate crimes provisions.

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Remembering those who have perished in hate crimes is important. The Jewish community remembers the Holocaust. By remembering those who have died in hate crimes, can we help prevent future hate crimes. That is why Stop Hate has memorial pages for some of the victims of hate crimes. People wanting us to add a link to an existing memorial page, or wanting us to create a simple memorial page for the victim of a hate crime, or for a person who worked to reduce hatred, prejudice, and discrimination are welcome to email us.

Advocate news article reviews some of the more gruesome murders of gay and bisexual people in the past few years. The article gives some information about Rashawn Brazel, a 19 year old bisexual man who was murdered and his body was dismembered. Sakia Gunn, who was 15, was murdered after she rejected the murder's advances, by stating she was a lesbian. Another murder mentioned is that of J.R. Warren, a 26 year old man, who was attacked, beaten, kicked, stomped, and driven over by a car.

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Gay, lesbian, and bisexual students in conservative Christian schools have often struggled to live within the strict behavior requirements. There appears to be good news for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students attending Brigham Young University. The university expects gay students to be committed to the "law of chastity." News reports are that "Sexual orientation is not an Honor code issue." Before the recent change, advocating for a gay life style, and any behaviors, "including those not sexual in nature," that indicated "homosexual conduct" were reported to be a violation of the behavior code. The Advocate news system article provides additional details.

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An Associate Press article, found on numerous web sites, including the ABC web site and Mike on Crime, indicates the number of unprovoked beatings of homeless people in the United States is "soaring." According to the AP article, a 2006 National Coalition for the Homeless report found there were " . . . 142 attacks . . . against homeless people, 20 of which resulted in death a 65 percent increase from 2005 . . . " In 1999, there were 60 reported attacks against homeless people. Michael Stoops, who works with an advocacy group for the homeless is quoted as saying, "Homeless people are the newest minority group in America that is 'OK' to hate and hurt . . . somehow, they're viewed as less deserving, less human than the rest of us."

Michael Stoop's comments might apply to other hate crimes. Somehow, people of different religions, racial or ethnic backgrounds, genders, or sexual orientations are not felt to deserve good things in life, or are not felt to even deserve to be alive. Hate crimes seem to be moving to a more serious level, however, when just being a member of a different socio-economic class is enough to provoke somebody to murder.

The Associated Press news article is a cause of concern for our nation's homeless. People who live on the street often have no safe place. They may sleep on park benches, under trees, in doorways, and under street overpasses. Those are all fairly open places, where secure locks are rarely available. People who have homes and apartments can retreat from the dangers of the street to their homes when it gets dark outside. In addition to the dangers of exposure to the environment, street people are exposed to the dangers of living outside, with no protection, during the most dangerous hours of the night.

Those interested in making a difference for the homeless may wish to support a proposed law that was recently introduced in Washington, DC. The proposed bill would make attacks on the homeless a hate crime. Information about the bill can be found on the
National Coalition for the Homeless web site. Contact information for Representatives and Senators can be found on the
Stop Hate web site.

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Those involved in human rights and civil rights find justice comes very slowly. Laws and attitudes can take years to change. Those seeking justice for crimes find the wait for justice can be very lengthy. An Associated Press article on the Mike on Crime web site notes the FBI is considering reopening numerous murder cases from the 1950s and 1960s that are thought to have been racially motivated.

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A Federal law, which would include gay and lesbian people, in hate crimes legislation, has been passed by the United States House of Representative. For gay and lesbian people, the bill is important because of the rate of hate crimes against queer people. A 365Gay.Com news article indicates the FBI statistics show one in six hate crimes is due to the victim's sexual orientation. This bill is important to women, because it also protects people who are the targets of crime due to their gender. The bill is now before the Senate. General information about the bill can be read on the Chicago Sun Times web site.

Unfortunately, it appears the White House may choose veto the bill. A CNN International article states the White House does not feel the bill is necessary, because local and state crime legislation is adequate. The CNN article indicates Republican Tom Feeney spoke against the bill, because, "What it does is to say that the dignity, the property, the life of one person gets more protection than another American. That's just wrong." A CBS article cites another Republican opponent of the bill as saying, "Our criminal justice system has been built on the ideal of equal justice for all. Under this bill justice will no longer be equal, but depend on the race, sex, sexual orientation, disability or status of the victim."

The article notes that current federal hate crimes laws protect people against violence on the basis of race, religion, and ethnicity. Opposition, in the opinion of this writer, is really not toward the protection of people on the basis of race, ethnic background, or religion. Those groups are already protected by hate crimes legislation. The opposition appears to be only against protecting women and gay people.

We encourage American citizens to phone, write, or email their Senators and the White House. Contact information for the White House and Senators can be found on the
Stop Hate web site

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A few news stories we are following appear below:

There are two Amnesty International US reports from Honduras. The first expresses concern regarding the reports that five men
beat a transvestite activist while the police watched. According to the Amnesty article, the police "encouraged the attackers and prevented others from coming to his aid . . ." The second report is that an LGBT activist in Honduras was
beaten by police and was sexually assaulted at the police station by people detained there.

Amnesty International USA has an article about Abune Antonios, a Patriarch of the Orthodox Church. According to the Amnesty article, the Patriarch is being held under house arrest in Eritrea since January of 2006 for not cooperating with the closing of a church there and for protesting the arrests of Orthodox priests.

An Advocate news article reports statistics on teen bullying in the United States. The article indicates gay and lesbian teens are three to four times more likely to report bullying than straight teens. The same study found bisexual teens were twice as likely to report being bullied. The study is said to have analyzed data from 7,500 youth aged 14 to 22.

An Associated Press article on the YNetnews site reports a homemade bomb exploded outside a Jewish community center in Montreal, Canada during Passover week.

The University of the Cumberlands is reported to have expelled a student when officials at the college learned from the student's web page that he was gay and had a boyfriend. A gay rights group is reported to be pressuring the state of Kentucky to withhold $11 million dollars slated for the University for a new school of pharmacy. Information about the article can be read on the Advocate web site.

An issue in cases such as this is the right private colleges that receive public funding to discriminate against members of minority groups. Many people are reluctant to require private Christian colleges to have policies that conflict with their religious convictions. An important question is if any organization receiving tax-payer's funding has the right to discriminate against gay, lesbian, or bisexual people.

An article on the Mike on Crime web site indicates a moderate Canadian Islamic group received a phone call from a man threatening to "slaughter" them.

A teacher, who was the advisor for a school newspaper, was suspended and is reported to be fighting for her job. A student's opinion column advocated tolerance for gay people. Evidently, the school board feels the column was controversial and should have been approved by the principal before it was approved. The teacher did not think tolerance was controversial. Additional information is on the Advocate web site.

In April, two United States citizens in St. Maarten were gay-bashed. Four people attacked them, with a wrench or a pipe. An attempt was made to run over a victim with a car. The wounds the men received were serious enough that they were air lifted to Florida for treatment. Additional details are on the PlanetOut web site.

A lesbian in Uganda is reported to be asking for asylum in the United States, after some of her relatives held her down so a stranger could rape her. An article about the request for asylum can be read on the Advocate internet site.

Unfortunately, Uganda is not the only country in the world where it can be dangerous to be gay. An April Time article headline asks if Jamaica is "The Most Homophobic Place on Earth?" The Time article outlines the problem of homophobia in Jamaica and notes that two of the island's more prominent gay activists, Brian Williamson and Steve Harvey were murdered. A crowd is reported to have celebrated over Brian Williamson's mutilated body. There are reports in the article of lynching and police involvement in the murders of gay people. People interested in more information about homophobia in Jamaica May want to read the Human Rights Worldwide report "Hated to Death: Homophobia, Violence, and Jamaica's HIV/AIDS Epidemic."

Fortunately, not all news in April was bad news. People are making a difference. April 18 was the National Day of Silence. According to a PlanetOut article, the Day of Silence has been observed for eleven years, as a protest against bullying and harassment of GLBT students, teachers, and friends in schools. People interested in assisting with the National Day of Silence may want to visit the Day of Silence web site.

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

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