OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with Violence
More and more hate crimes are being reported across the country, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In 2009, the number of hate crime reported in Canada went up by 42%, and police are optimistic. “It’s not that the hate crimes are actually increasing,” explained Ken Smith from the Edmonton police department’s hate crimes unit. “People are feeling more comfortable reporting it.”
Indeed, hate crimes have been historically under-reported. According to a Statistics Canada survey from 2004, 60% of hate crime victims claimed that they didn’t bother reporting the incidents to the police. A change in this number is welcome news because it allows for more opportunities to catch the people who commit these crimes. This is particularly true with respect to GLBT victims, who are finally feeling safe enough to out themselves to the police and more confident that the police will help them.
GLBT victims, incidentally, need to report these incidents the most. The severest hate crimes—violent assaults—were committed against members of the GLBT community more often than any other identifiable minority, a disturbing trend.
Obviously there’s a lot of work to be done to improve things, but the most important step—reporting hate crimes when they happen—is already happening. So, while I’d be most happy if hate crimes stopped altogether as of last night (one can hope, right?), I take the latest statistics as an encouraging move toward a safer life for everyone.
- Increase in Edmonton hate crimes due to more frequent reporting, police say [Edmonton Journal]
For the sixth consecutive year, Moscow has forbidden a peaceful gay rights demonstration from happening within the city, and for the sixth consecutive year, equal rights advocates have defied the ban—with violent consequences.
Sadly, this isn’t a surprise. Homophobia runs very deep in Russian culture, so the same story returns year after year. An otherwise peaceful demonstration is met by violent counter protesters from radical right-wing organisations, and the end result is that the peaceful demonstrators are arrested by the police.
Banning peaceful protests is never a good idea, so I’m grateful for the bravery and dedication these men and women show year after year.
It may seem like Moscow has a long way to go, but attitude only change with visibility. When I was a teen growing up in Edmonton in the 90s, I remember a news story about the city’s first gay Pride march. A small handful of protesters stood in front of city hall with handmade signs. About one in three had their heads covered by paper bags with holes cut out for eyes. They were afraid of being identified, afraid of losing their jobs or being outed to their families. This was in Canada, only about 15 years ago. Things have changed a lot since then, and it’s happening all over the world—just at different paces.
I’m looking forward to the year, guaranteed to come, when I’ll post about the first march in Moscow without arrests or violence.
- Dozens detained in failed Russian gay pride march [Montréal Gazette]
Shaun Woodward, a 37 year old construction worker, was in a Vancouver gay pub last March when he was offered a beer by Richard Dowrey, a 62 year old gay man out celebrating his retirement. Woodward, who is straight, was angered by the gesture, sucker punching the retiree amidst a stream of homophobic slurs. Dowrey suffered permanent brain damage, leaving him with severe memory problems. He will require assisted living for the rest of his life.
Robin Perelle from Xtra Vancouver interviewed Dowrey for an article published late last week. The story is heartbreaking. In Perelle’s words:
I visited Dowrey at his care home in Langley the day before his attacker’s sentencing hearing. Dowrey can’t remember the attack. He can’t remember his friends at The Fountainhead [Pub]. He can’t remember his life.
I ask him how old he is; “60-something,” he tells me, unable to be more precise. “I don’t remember a thing from the 40s and 50s,” he adds. I ask him why. “I don’t know,” he replies, watching me.
“I hope I’ll get better one of these days,” he says, pointing at himself. “I hope so.” “I just have to get this leg fixed,” he says.
Woodward claimed the attack was self defense because the 62 year old had made “unwanted sexual advances.” Provincial Court Judge Jocelyn Palmer dismissed Woodward’s gay panic defense outright, calling the gay-bashing an “unprovoked attack, driven by virulent homophobia,” delivering a six-year prison sentence.
Judge Palmer’s choice of words, “virulent,” is fitting. Homophobic sentiment spreads and strengthens itself, and silence does nothing to stop it. Homophobia must be challenged wherever it is encountered, well before it escalates to this level of violence and destroys lives.
- Man ‘driven by virulent homophobia’ sentenced to 6 years for attack on gay man [Vancouver Sun]
- Unrecognizable [Xtra Vancouver]
Despicable news from the east coast: Early last week, a gay couple living in Little Pond, Price Edward Island had an incendiary device thrown through their window in the middle of the night. While their house burned to the ground, the couple had to escape through a window, not knowing if anyone was outside to harm them. It took twenty firefighters nearly two hours to stop the flames.
Neighbours suspect the attack was a hate crime, as the gay couple’s mailbox had been set on fire a week earlier and the couple had previously complained about an anonymous harasser. Police have confirmed that they are treating the fire as arson, but haven’t found any suspects.
The community reaction to the crime has been swift and compassionate, but the couple, who has not been identified by the media, is understandably terrified. They asked a neighbour to accompany them when returning to the site of the fire to search for belongings, since they were too scared to go by themselves.
Here’s hoping the suspects are found. There is absolutely no room for this sort of hateful violence in Canada. In the meantime, anyone with information about the attacks is asked to contact the Kings District RCMP.
Special thanks to Slap reader Matthew, and everyone else who sent in this story.
- Co-ordinator says fire highlights homophobia on PEI [The Guardian]
- P.E.I. town fears fire was hate crime [CBC News]
A gay-bashing victim who was assaulted in Vancouver earlier this month is very unhappy with the response he received from the police.
Thomas Pope says he was waiting for his friends outside a McDonalds when two men started taunting him with homophobic slurs. When his friends finally stepped outside, the two men turned their taunts to one of them as well, eventually escalating to violence. Thomas was punched several times in the face, and his friend, Jacob Pyne, had a tooth knocked out. Their female friend, Sara, wasn’t targetted. “They said that they had no problem with her because she’s a girl,” Thomas told the press, “they had a problem with [Jacob and me] because we’re “faggots.”‘
The police were called and arrived quickly, but that’s where things got weird. “She was swearing at us and yelling at us, the police officer,” Thomas told the press. “She said it was just a he-said-she-said incident and wouldn’t take my statement; that they were off the clock and we were lucky they even responded to the call.”
It took the involvement of Spencer Chandra Herbert, a Vancouver MLA who was concerned about this story, to get the police’s attention. An internal investigation which includes video surveillance is now underway.
It’s supremely disappointing that the police allegedly behaved in this manner, because reporting homophobic attacks is exactly what needs to be done as soon as something like this happens. Here’s hoping this ends up being resolved quickly!
- Police belligerent and unprofessional at gaybashing [Xtra West]
- Police conduct questioned in alleged gay-bashing [Toronto SUN]
Shawn Woodward, a 37 year old man from Vancouver, was found guilty of aggravated assault this week after sucker-punching a 62-year-old gay man. Richard Dowrey, the victim, was left with permanent brain damage and will now require assistance for the rest of his life.
Woodward, who is straight, claimed that the punch was made in self-defense because Dowrey had made “unwanted sexual advances.” Now, that’s a pretty crazy argument on its own, but it’s extra absurd in this case. The assault happened inside the Fountainhead Pub, a gay bar in the middle of Vancouver’s gay district.
After examining witness testimony, the judge found that Woodward’s evidence was not credible, that no sexual assault took place, and that Woodward merely became offended and violent after being hit on by a gay guy.
Sentencing happens in September, where it will be decided if the assault was also a hate crime.
- Guilty verdict in Fountainhead Pub assault [CBC News]
Parminder Singh Peter Bassi and Ravinder Robbie Bassi, two gay bashers facing charges for a vicious assault on a Vancouver gay couple after urinating on their house, have skipped out on their first scheduled court appearance.
Their lawyer, in the meantime, has asked for an extension until August 9 because he said he hasn’t received the files for the case. Now, I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve prepared a short file containing everything Mr. Baker needs to know about his clients:
File no. 28-3765-67
They were urinating on someone’s house and, when asked to stop, beat the living crap out of the owners while shouting anti-gay slurs. Then they didn’t show up for court.
Enjoy the extra month of preparation for that one.
- Case postponed for accused gay bashers [The Province]
Somewhat good news today, as four men have been arrested in Vancouver for two separate gay bashings in the past month.
Parminder Singh Peer Bassi and Ravinder Robbie Bassi, now arrested, were urinating on the home of a gay couple on June 12; when the couple asked them to stop, there were assaulted amidst a number of homophobic slurs.
Alexandre Tchernychev and Aaron Alexander Hahn, also now arrested, assaulted a man in Vancouver’s gay village on the morning of Canada Day, again while shouting homophobic slurs.
While I’m happy these attacks are being reported more frequently and arrests are being made, this is still happening far too often. It’s easy to condemn violence, but condemnation needs to start earlier, challenging the casual homophobia that leads to it. Condemnation from the gay community isn’t enough. Politicians, churches, ethnic communities, and everyone in between needs to help put a stop to this.
- Arrests made in 2 Vancouver gay bashings [CBC News]
A Vancouver man has been given a harsh, year-long prison sentence for assaulting a gay man back in September, 2008.
Jordan Smith was holding hands with his boyfriend as they walked along the street in Vancouver’s gay district when he was attacked by Michael Kandola. The attack knocked Smith out cold and broke his jaw, requiring surgery to have it wired shut.
Smith had never held hands with his boyfriend in public before and hasn’t done so since.
Kandola’s lawyers argued that the assault, caught on film by a security camera, should not be considered a hate crime—a notion that the judge rightfully dismissed. The attacker shouted anti-gay slurs before and after the assault, even as the victim was laying unconscious on the ground.
This is one of the first gay bashings to be ultimately ruled a hate crime under sections 318 and 319 of Canada’s criminal code—a very welcome change from the norm.
You see, occasionally, I hear some nonsense about how “all crimes are hate crimes,” and that tougher sentences shouldn’t be given in instances like Smith’s attack. I could not disagree as completely as I do with this sentiment. Hate crimes are different from regular crimes in that they target an entire community, not just a single victim. They send the message that all gay people had better watch their backs. This ruling sends the message that anyone who would terrorize the gay community with violence should watch theirs.
- B.C. judge declares attack on gay man a hate crime [CTV News]
- Attacked for holding hands [Surrey Leader]
A 31-year old lesbian was violently assaulted in Edmonton last week in what she and her friends are calling a hate-motivated attack. Shannon Barry required two facial plate implants to repair a broken jaw and crushed eye socket after being kicked in the face while her assailants shouted anti-gay slurs.
Thankfully, an arrest has now been made: A 14-year old boy who cannot be identified by police.
Personally, I find that age pretty shocking. Fourteen. Who and what could possibly influence a kid to assault a woman over twice his age? I mean, other than the religious figures, politicians, lobby groups, and other adult role models who routinely encourage an unnatural hatred toward an entire minority group.
A man who was harassed with homophobic slurs and physical assaults by a woman at the Vancouver Olympics opening ceremonies is wondering why the venue’s ushers, security, and organizers have ignored the whole incident.
The unidentified woman mistakenly thought Tyler Sheppard and his friends were in her seat, prompting her to launch into bizarre tantrum, calling them gay slurs and kicking.
The abuse didn’t stop even after an usher confirmed that the seats were correctly assigned. Mr. Sheppard is now looking for answers as to why the usher and police at the venue didn’t do anything about it. Days later, the organizers have yet to return calls about the incident.
In an interview with Xtra West, Sheppard called the whole ordeal “demoralizing.” “My friends heard it; a lot of people heard it,” he said. “She kicked me in the back with her foot which left a red mark.”
Yikes! I guess the ceremonies didn’t charm everyone. I mean, I know the torch lighting incident didn’t go as smoothly as planned, but this is a bit of an overreaction, don’t you think?
The Thunder Bay community gathered to take a stand against homophobic violence on Friday after a gay man endured a vicious attack just one week before. Jake Raynard says he and some friends were assaulted outside a local bar because they were gay, with Jake bearing the brunt of the attack—ultimately requiring reconstruction surgery to repair multiple fractures to his head and face.
These attacks are unacceptably frequent, and the victims often don’t come forward. I believe that hiding from homophobia solves absolutely nothing, so I applaud Jake’s brave stance in making himself visible after such an attack. Homophobia affects everyone, even straight people, so it’s important to take a stand, be visible, and vocal.
Twenty years ago today, Alain Brosseau was walking home from his job waiting tables at the Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa when he was attacked and killed by a group of men because they thought he was gay. He wasn’t.
To mark the tragic event, the Ottawa community is organising a show of solidarity called Walk The Bridge In My Shoes. It begins tonight at 7pm, starting with the viewing of a 1996 documentary at the National Art Gallery and concluding with a walk down the Alexandra Bridge, where Brosseau was dropped head-first onto a pile of rocks. Organisers encourage all participants to bring cell phones or flashlights to light up the bridge, while the Ottawa and Gatineau Chiefs of Police meet mid-way for a symbolic exchange.
Twenty years ago may seem like a while, but gay bashings are still a reality and you don’t need to be gay to become a victim. These incidents will not go unnoticed; homophobia needs to be nipped in the bud.
- Ceremony to mark 1989 fatal gay-bashing [CBC News]
A young man has been arrested in Vancouver after punching a gay man in the face for singing Christmas carols.
The victim, who did not wish to identify himself to the media, was walking past St. Paul’s hospital with a friend when he became inspired by the Christmas lights display and burst into carols. The attacker, 21 year old Christopher Clifford Mercier, suddenly became enraged and punched the singer in the face while shouting anti-gay slurs.
While the victim was not seriously injured, these attacks are serious. This is Vancouver’s second, reported, spontaneous anti-gay attack this autumn. Jordan Smith, another Vancouver gay man, suffered a broken jaw after being assaulted in late September.
The Vancouver police are investigating the attack as a hate crime, a move which I applaud. Minorities are often at a greater risk of assault for no reason other than simply being a minority; this is why hate crime laws are in place. Gay bashing is not a sport and it is vital that the police send out a message that this will not be tolerated.
A court date has been set for a violent attacker who assaulted a lesbian couple as they were picking up their children from elementary school in Oshawa. The attack, which bloodied one of the mothers, was witnessed by numerous children, including the assailant’s own son.
Jane Currie and Anji Dimitriou, the victims, described the attack to Capital Xtra and the Durham Region:
[The attacker] said to Anji, “Which of you two men spoke to my kid? Fucking dyke lesbians.” I jumped out and just as I came around he spit right in her face. She wiped the spit off and he punched her in the face and hit her again in the back of the head.
I said to him, “you asshole what are you doing? You just beat a woman” then bang I got it.
Mark Scott’s violent assault left both parents with black eyes, and one with four stitches. Eyewitnesses confirmed that the attack was unprovoked, and likely a hate crime. Currie now says her three children are terrified:
We went to Zellers and they didn’t want to get out of the truck. “What if he’s in Zellers?” they asked. “What if he comes back to the school and comes after us?”
What a disgusting assault. The brazenness of it—in front of multiple children—is very hard for me to understand, but I take it as strong evidence for how deep homophobia continues to run.
These assaults aren’t common, but the behaviour the attacker learned comes from multiple, definite sources. There are lobby groups, legislators, editorialists, churches, and individuals that continue to portray gay people, through unfounded misinformation, phony research, and scaremongering, as some sort of threat to the very foundations of society. It’s in this extreme atmosphere that homophobia, including violent homophobia, can thrive.
This has to be stopped. Challenge verbal homophobia wherever it is encountered. Challenge it. Only when it is unchallenged can it escalate to this madness.
Yahya Jammeh, the president of The Gambia, Africa, announced last week that he will introduce laws “stricter than Iran” in dealing with homosexuality. He said that gay people in the country have exactly 24 hours to leave, and that he will “cut off the head” of any gay person he finds left.
Jammeh said that he wants to make The Gambia “one of the best countries to live in,” adding that he has spent over $100 million US dollars since 1994 to help promote the country’s development.
While I guess it’s nice that he’s giving gay people a day’s head start, the comments were immediately condemned by human rights groups. Carey Johnson of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Council was appalled by the mass death threat:
What president Jammeh fails to realise is that there are a significant population of Gambians who are gay, and he has no right to ask them to leave.
Jammeh made international headlines last year when he announced that he had discovered the cure for AIDS: A mixture of herbs to be eaten and rubbed over patients’ bodies.
- Gambia gay death threat condemned [BBC News]
- Gambia President Yahya Jammeh threatens to behead gays [News.com.au]
Gay men are twice as likely as heterosexual men to be victimized by violent crimes in Vancouver according to a nine-year study on the subject.
Researchers at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS surveyed 500 gay men as part of an effort to document the rate of physical violence in the Vancouver area. While the gay statistic wasn’t particularly surprising considering the continued persistence of homophobia, researchers were struck by the age of the victims. Gay men who came out of the closet before the age of 24 were attacked more frequently.
Dr. Thomas Lampinen, one of the researchers, said that the age findings highlight the importance of tolerance initiatives in schools:
In schoolyards all across the country, if ethnic and racial slurs were being uttered at this rate, it would be tolerated for about a New York minute. And yet, somehow, it seems OK for kids to be saying daily, “Oh, that’s so gay,” or calling people “faggot.”
Anti-gay and religious groups routinely oppose anti-homophobia measures in schools. One group called Defend Traditional Marriage and Family successfully pulled an optional teacher’s resource booklet on diversity from teachers lounges, and the Catholic Civil Rights League has launched a similar, grassroots assault against draft guidelines in B.C. Three Catholic School boards have even refused to let researchers distribute optional student surveys designed to measure the extent of homophobic bullying in school.
With such an organized assault on anti-bullying initiatives, it’s no wonder some people get the message that violence against gays is OK.
A Statistics Canada study released this week reports that gays and lesbians in Canada are nearly twice as likely to experience violent assault than heterosexuals.
Kathleen Lahey, a researcher at Queen’s University in Ontario, is unsurprised:
The research that was done on this issue previously in Canada has disclosed, surprisingly, very high results in all categories [of violence], ranging from extreme assault resulting in death, way to the other end of the continuum, which is threatening behaviour in public, including spitting, saying derogatory comments and so on.
While this isn’t really news, most previous studies attributed higher levels of violence to assumptions about “lifestyle,” comparable to how young people, singles, and those who go out at night are more likely to experience violence. Stats Canada’s study, on the other hand, shows that sexual orientation still resulted in higher victimization rates, even when those factors were taken into account.
Lahey attributed this directly to homophobia:
It is important to have these figures, because it helps erase the denial about how tolerant and equal Canadian society is.
There is an increased perception that all must be well with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and transsexual individuals in Canada. But, as people who live these lives know, that is not true.
It’s sad news, given Canada’s advancements in human rights—but as long as there are groups denouncing the existence of gay people, there will be those who listen to that message and react violently.
Despite the increased threat of violence, however, gay people are not living in fear. Over 90% of gay people said they were either “somewhat” or “very satisfied” with their safety level, a proportion nearly identical to heterosexuals.
- Experts fear violence against gays, lesbians under-reported [Canada.com]
- Sexual orientation a factor in violence: Statscan [Globe and Mail]
A father and son who beat a gay man in Lake Cowichan have skipped out on their court date last Tuesday, securing arrest warrants. Mark Edwards, a 21-year old gay man, said he was called slurs, punched, kicked, and choked by the pair because he was gay, and the attackers remain unrepentant. (I guess family bonding activities have changed since my childhood.)
Members of the gay community were appalled by the beating, and have organized a Safe Harbour Respect for All event which takes place on October 17th. The event, aimed at businesses and community members, will discuss anti-discrimination steps in an effort to build a more tolerant community.
First step: Encourage fishing instead of, say, pummeling.
Quebec City’s gay community is assembling to denounce homophobia after a local man was severely beaten. The 24-year-old man, who wishes to be known only as Philippe, said four men followed him after he emerged from Le Drague, a gay bar. After being called derogatory names, he was pushed to the ground and kicked several times. Eight screws were required to reassemble his jaw.
In a display of solidarity, several gay rights organisations are holding an anti-homophobia brunch at Place d’Youville, the site of the beating, during the city’s Pride festivities.
On a personal note, I’ve refrained from posting physical gay-bashing stories in the past because I felt the tone and title of this site (and certainly the illustrations) would make it an inappropriate venue to discuss such terrible events. That decision was a mistake. As I’ve become increasingly bothered by the lack of attention these stories receive, I’ll no longer hesitate to post them.
The Toronto police lost an appeal this week after a court fined them for wrongly arresting and beating a gay man while yelling homophobic slurs. The man was arrested for reckless driving and resisting arrest. His van was parked at the time.
As a result of the seven-year ordeal, the victim is now calling for a public police inquiry into the incident.
Good for him. Of course, knowing how these things work, the inquiry will probably take an additional seven years prompting an inquiry into the inquiry. I’ll post an update at that time—though there’s a good chance the web will have been replaced by time-connected cybernetic brain implants. So, if you’re interested in tracking this story’s progress, keep your implant’s neodymium ferro-fluid charged! Until then, folks!
- Probe police conduct, gay bashing victim urges [Toronto Star]
Calgary’s police chief, Jack Beaton, warned anti-gay protesters that “there’s such a thing as provocation” last week, after a protester who chased and called a gay man a “disgusting homo” was given a hefty, retaliatory tackle.
While the tackling was, of course, rightfully condemned, the police chief’s warning isn’t going over well with some of the protesters. Jeff Willerton, who was holding a quaint little “No Pride in Sodomy” sign that day, published an open letter on Wednesday, stating that not only were his slurs “in no way considered hateful” (chortle), but also that he thinks his group was the one provoked. The poor dears! Unwillingly incited into crafting offensive signs and yelling slurs!
Observe their rationale:
Two men spit at us, missing me but hitting my friend. This caused a great deal of concern for my friend, who knows that AIDS-infected spit in the eye or in an open sore can lead to the transmission of the disease.
Oh, Snap! Seriously. All us gays must be like walking rainbows of death—ready to infect anyone who crosses our path of gayness with the GRIDS! Run for the hills!
Incidentally, Tyson McCann Cormack, the spitter, had this to say:
I was chased and yelled at and I’ve never done anything my whole life. Well, I was tired of it today. I went to spit near one guy, but I did not spit on him. I spat near him as a sign that I wasn’t impressed with [the slurs].
But, really, although the protesters were clearly being jerks, that doesn’t exonerate a physical attack. After all, no matter how hurtful the “pro-family” types can be—no matter how much they go out of their way to personally insult us gays on our only day of celebration—I only dole out metaphorical slaps. It’s just the cordial thing to do.
- Anger flares at gay parade [Calgary Herald]
- Reader says he and his friend were provoked [Calgary Herald]
- Protesters And Participants Clash At Gay Pride Parade [CityTV News]
Even moose and squirrel must be shaking their heads at this news. Moscow’s first gay pride parade, which was to peacefully conclude by placing flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was met by hordes of violent protesters who started punching and kicking the participants. What’s even sadder, the authorities did little to stop the violence, instead condemning the parade. The mayor and courts even banned the march, citing, well… nothing, really.
Canadian gay rights activist, John Fisher, was there.
What I saw was a complete failure of police protection that was directly linked to the mayor’s banning of the march. We can only hope that what we saw was representative of only a small segment of society.
Of course, there’s not much joking I can do with this shameful material, so I’ll conclude by congratulating the pride marchers for taking a stand against such nonsense, and I wish them all the best next year! Don’t give up!
Here’s an oldie: What do you get when you wear a fur coat, white jeans, suede boots, and a “Drama Queen” t-shirt to Edmonton’s Gay Pride Week celebrations? Give up? A punch in the face from a crazy, anti-gay stranger!
I wouldn’t bother holding for laughter on that “punchline.” It’s the brainchild of Nicolas Demers, a 19 year old anti-gay kook who pleaded guilty last week to punching a gay man in the face during Pride Week. Demers was caught after assaulting the man in City Hall last June, despite attempts to escape the building undetected. (Apparently, “cleverly” swapping t-shirts with a friend doesn’t fool today’s CSI-informed security guards.)
The motivation for this anti-gay attack was, well, spawned by irrational anti-gayness. “There should be a law against dressing like that,” Demers told security personnel, “He deserved to be punched.”
Happily, despite Demers’ “creative lobbying,” there aren’t any laws against dressing colourfully. Though, there are apparently laws against punching someone in the face. Sentencing begins this June.
- Attack Haunts Gay Supporter [Edmonton SUN]