Stop Homophobia


 




Editorial 23 - December 2005 - Aaron Webster Murder Trials

Those who have been following this web site and the Stop Hate 2000 web site may be familiar with Aaron Webster's murder. Aaron Webster was murdered because he was gay. His brutal murder was described by the judge in one of the murder trials as a hate crime. In the trial of one of the men convicted with Aaron Webster's murder, the judge is reported as having described the murder in this manner, "a thug brigade, stalking human prey for entertainment in a manner very reminiscent of Nazi youth in pre-war Germany." Unfortunately, the police did not charge any of the men involved under the provisions of Canadian hate crimes legislation. More information about Aaron Webster can be found on his Stop Hate 2000 memorial web page.

We posted a reply to a letter of concern written to officials in the British Columbia Government. The letter of concern and a response can be found in Editorial 14.

Denise, who has been following the case, read the reply we received from the Solicitor General and sent us the following email:

[50] The aggravating factors in my opinion are numerous:

1. The attack and beating of Mr. Webster was in fact a "hate crime" as set out in section 718.2 (a)(1) of the Criminal Code. I am aware that the Crown has conceded that since J.S. has stated that they went to the park looking for "peeping-toms" or "voyeurs", and that he did not know that this area was frequented by homosexuals, she has no way of establishing that this was a "hate crime." I disagree.

Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code states as follows: "A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles: a) a sentence should be increased or reduced to account for any relevant aggravating or mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing,

(i) evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual >orientation or any other similar factor,..."

I am of the opinion that this crime was motivated by "bias, prejudice or hate based" on a factor similar to sexual orientation and is covered by this section of the Criminal Code. It strikes me that this section contemplates hatred against "peeping toms" and/or "voyeurs" as being within its purview, since in my opinion such activity represents a sexual lifestyle which some may consider deviant, but is a sexual lifestyle all the same.

I have been advised that the media has been describing this incident as a "gay-bashing" with no foundation for saying so. On this point I find it incredible that the accused and his friends who were obviously in the habit of visiting the park to "beat up" peeping toms" and "voyeurs" were so naïve that they did not notice that this area was frequented by gays. In any event a gay person was "bashed" by the accused and his friends in an area reputedly frequented by gays, and in that regard I fail to see why it cannot be regarded as a "gay bashing."

There has been a public protest over the way the men who killed Aaron Webster were prosecuted. There has been a change in the Minister of Public Safety and the Solicitor General of British Columbia. We encourage those who are concerned about the trial of the murderers to write the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General in British Columbia. With a new person in office, there could be a different response to concerns. Contact information for the British Columbia Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General appears below:

Mr. John Les
Minister of Public Safety & Solicitor General
PO BOX 9053
STN PROV GOVT
VICTORIA BC V82 9E2
Fax (250)356-8270
email john.les.mla@leg.bc.ca

More information about Aaron Webster can be found on the Stop Hate 2000 Aaron Webster Memorial page.