Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter November 2009

Will’s father commented about how difficult school is for queer students. “Most parents worry about if they make a grade, make a team, or do things like that. When we sent Willi to school, we worried that it would be the last time we would see him.” Stated in interview in the documentary movie Anti-Gay Hate Crime: A & E Investigative Reports. Available from Amazon.Com and Amazon.Ca.
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Stop Hate 2000 Myspace account. Copies of our newsletters are there. Because it is now possible for us to link some news stories to the Myspace page, people who want to follow news developments are very welcome to friend us on Myspace. Only news stories that allow us to link the news on Myspace will be able to be posted.
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There is very sad news from Fort Hood, Texas. Allahu Akbar is reported to have said “God is the greatest” and then opened fire on people on the army base. According to a News24 article, Akbar is an army psychiatrist. Akbar is reported to have killed 13 people. Another article on the News24 system says there are reports Akbar was harassed over his Middle-Eastern heritage.

At this stage, we are not sure if the murders are due to a hate crime, terrorism, or are due to deep emotional problems. We urge that people not jump to any conclusions or express their sorrow in ways that would bring pain or fear to Islamic or Middle-Eastern communities.

Our hearts go out to the families, loved-ones, colleagues, and friends of the victims of the shooting. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

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Hate appears to be learned. Just as we learn to love people, we can also learn to hate people. The home is an important educator. There is a very real possibility that children learn racism, homophobia, and intolerance at home. Ties that Bind - Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences sounds like an interesting book. A review can be read on the Edge web site.

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For November, there were several news reports that are enough to make one rub one’s eyes, and read the news a few times to make sure there was no misunderstanding and no mistake. There are several news stories of that caliber this month.

The National Public Radio web site carries an article about Keith Bardwell, a justice of the peace who refused to marry a couple, because the individuals wanting to get married were not of the same race. According to the Associated Press article, carried on the NPR site, Bardwell resigned from his job, after “calls for his ouster” from a few leading public officials. The justice of the peace appears to hold values and opinions that are a little out of place for this century.

An article in the Jamaica Star News stating gays must leave the McGregor Gully district of East Kingston. According to the article, gays and lesbians were given two weeks of notice, and they now must leave. The article says “today has been proclaimed ‘Gay Eradication Day.’”

Reports from Uganda speak of a level of state-sanctioned homophobia and oppression that is difficult to comprehend. A British Broadcasting Corporation article states homosexual acts are already illegal in Uganda. According to the BBC article, having sex while HIV positive, or having sex with a partner who has a disability, or a partner under 18 years of age could be punishable by death. An APF article on the ExgayWatch web site states the proposed Ugandan bill would criminalize “any public discussion of homosexuality” and could result in legal action being taken against those who knowingly rent property to a homosexual. A Manilla Bulletin Publishing article states the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill could result in people serving a seven year prison sentence for “aiding and abetting homosexuality,” or for the “promotion of homosexuality.” Not reporting somebody who is gay could be a crime punishable by a three year prison sentence. This bill appears is so heavy-handed that leading American Christians, such as Rick Warren, and the ex-gay ministry Exodus are opposing the bill. An editorial in CrossWalk says Exodus International is opposed to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The ExgayWatch web site contains Rick Warren’s statement, and a few short comments.

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Violence against gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals is a major theme in the news again. Fortunately, all of the news is not bad news. There are two very positive developments. Probably the most important news is that President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. Eleven years after both men were murdered in grizzly hate crimes, gay people are now protected in American hate crimes legislation. In the United States, it is now a more serious crime to assault people based on their sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity. An article about the legislation, along with a video and a written copy of Obama’s remarks can be found on the HuffingtonPost web site. Matthew Shepard’s mother, Judy Shepard, also commented on the passage of this landmark legislation. Her comments also appear in the HuffingtonPost article.

At last, the United States, most powerful country in the world, has acknowledged in law that violence against sexual minorities exists, and that sexual minority groups deserve protection of the law. This is a significant change from the attitude that was often seen in previous decades, where the feeling was that sexual minorities deserved prosecution and persecution, and crimes against gay and transgendered people were not to be taken seriously. Hate crimes protection sends a very important message. That message is that gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-identified, and intersex individuals are valuable members of society. The message is not lost on sexual minorities; it is heard loud and clear. The next step is for the country that proudly proclaims all people are created equal is to grant sexual minorities equal marriage and employment rights, and equal right to openly serve in the military.

Another positive note comes from Hillary Clinton. United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton announced the State Department is now keeping track of violence against sexual minorities around the world, and condemns violence against queer people. An article and a video about the announcement can be found on the GayPolitics.Com website.

A British Broadcasting Corporation news article headline asks a question that is on the mind of those who monitor violence against the gay community, “Just as gay and lesbian people are starting to enjoy equal rights, the number of attacks against them seems to be rising. Why?” The article mentions that a decade after a nail-bomb in a gay bar killed three people, social attitudes have changed. There are civil partnerships in United Kingdom law. According to the BBC article, there have been a series of homophobic assaults in the United Kingdom. Ian Baynham, who was assaulted in September, died of his injuries. The BBC article states there was a 40% increase in homophobic crime in Merseyside, a 34% increase in Strathclyde, and an 18% increase in London. Reported cases of violence against trans-identified appears to be increasing too. The International Transgender Day of Remembrance web site contains a document outlining the transgender death statistics for 2009. According to the document, there were 18 deaths in the United States in 2008. As of October 22, there were 10 deaths in the United States. The international figures show a staggering increase. There were 29 reported deaths in 2008 and as of October 22, there were 85 transgender deaths outside of the United States. A gay rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, is cited in the BBC article as saying the violence against gays could be a backlash against equality legislation.

There could be a backlash against the queer community in the United States due to the passage of the hate crimes legislation, and attempts to gain legal status for same-sex marriages. In The Meaning of Matthew, a book about Matthew Shepard, Judy Shepard mentions that hate crimes almost always spike after high visibility “and celebration for a minority group . . .” Another factor in increased rates of violence could be reporting. As members of sexual minority groups become more comfortable being visible, they are more likely to report violence against them. Regardless of the cause or causes, the increase in reported violence is an issue of concern.

Unfortunately, there are numerous acts of violence against members of the queer community to report. At this stage, we are not certain if they are all hate crimes. Just a few acts of violence against sexual minority members we have been following appear below.

•A Georgetown University student was gay bashed. According to a MyFox article, this is the second Georgetown student to be attacked in a week.

Washington Blade carries an article about a vigil for a murdered trans-identified woman. Tyli’a a NaNaBoo Mack, who some people might know as Joshua Mack, and another trans woman were stabbed in the Washington, DC area. Tyli’a a NaNaBoo died from the wounds.

•The website carries news of a gay man, Erik Rozenski, who was attacked in London, Ontario. The attack took place a couple of weeks after another gay London man, Brandon Wright, was badly beaten. Xtra carries another article about Chris Skinner, a gay man who was assaulted by four men. Evidently, he was beaten and kicked. The attackers are believed to have run over Chris Skinner with their SUV. At this stage, it would be premature to conclude that Chris Skinner’s murder was a hate crime.

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The Conservative Party in Canada is trying to portray itself as moderately conservative. Trying to maintain that position could be coming more difficult, because of recent appointments. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is reported to have hired Nigel Hannaford as a speech writer. When Hannaford worked for the Calgary Herald newspaper, Xtra states he publicly opposed gay rights. Another sour note rings with news of the appointment of Darrel Reid as Stephen Harper’s director of policy. An Xtra article informs us that Darrell Reid used to be in charge of Focus on the Family in Canada. Focus on the Family in the United States has been a very outspoken opponent of hate crimes protection for gay people, and of same-sex marriage. There is some reason for concern when political officials appoint people who appear to be strongly opposed to queer human rights. We hope these two appointments do not show the heart of the Conservative Party of Canada for sexual minorities.

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Any government system that allows popular vote to erase the rights of minority groups is politically and morally bankrupt. In the case of same-sex marriage, we’ve recently seen two states erase the right to marriage. In California, the public voted to eliminate same-sex marriage, after the courts ruled that banning same-sex marriage was discriminatory. In an act of judiciary homophobia, the courts supported California’s mass homophobia. In November, we see the state of Maine voting against allowing gay marriages. An article on Edge says the margin was 53% of voters against gay marriage, with 87% of the precincts reporting. The article states gay marriage lost in all 31 states where it was put to popular vote. The irony is that a country founded on the principles of trying to ensure individual rights could not easily be violated by church and state has been allowing church organizations and the state to oppress gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.

The good news is that it appears 47% of voters in Maine supported same-sex marriage. That is almost 50% of the population. Had the same vote been taken five or ten years ago, the percentage of people who would support gay marriage would have been significantly. Progress is being made. The progress is very slow, but progress is being made.

Fortunately, news was much better in Washington state. One of our Stop Hate 2000 correspondents passed on information about a Washington referendum. Voters in Washington supported a bill that will provide additional same-sex partner benefits and rights. According to an article on the Advocate, the measure appears to have been approved by 52% of Washington voters.

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The British Broadcasting Corporation web site carries an article about a Tanzanian albino boy who was murdered. According to the article, albino Tanzanians live in fear. There could be reasons for their fear. The article says more than 50 albinos were murdered in the last two years. Body parts from albinos are reportedly sold for money. Three men have been sentenced to death for the murder.

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James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, will no longer host the program. This is likely to be viewed by many people in the queer community as very good news. He has long been a spokesman against rights for the queer community and gay marriage.

Focus on the Family poured significant donations into campaigns to prevent gay marriages. The online Advocate carries the article “Limited Bang for Focus Bucks” about how James Dobson’s ministry helped fund the campaign against same-sex marriage in Maine and against civil union partnerships in Washington. The article says Focus on the Family spent about $115,000 on the Maine campaign and about $91,000 on the Washington campaign. An article giving a queer perspective on James Dobson’s retirement can be found on the Exgay Watch web site.

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

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