Showing posts with label Attacking Gays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Attacking Gays. Show all posts

October 2, 2019

A Man Attacked Transgender Woman in Jacksonville Leaving Her Unconscious Between Cars in The Street

By Brooke Sopelsa

Eric Shaun Bridges.
Authorities in Jacksonville, Florida, arrested a man Sunday in connection with a brutal attack on a victim who local activists say is a transgender woman.
 Eric Shaun Bridges, 34, has been charged with attempted murder and is being held on $500,003 bail. Police found the victim, whose identity has not been made public, lying on the street Friday morning after she “appeared to have been beaten severely, as well as dragged behind a vehicle by the lower extremities” for approximately two blocks, according to a statement from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant Chief Brien Kee told The Florida Times-Union on Friday, before the suspect was apprehended, that the attack was caught on a camera but could not be shared with the public: “The video was so graphic we can’t release it. It’s horrendous,” Kee reportedly said.
The victim was transported to an area hospital and her condition continues to be life-threatening, according to authorities.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident and has not disclosed a motive for the crime, according to First Coast News, NBC’s Jacksonville-area affiliate. Authorities are asking anyone with information to contact them at 904-630-0500 or
Bridges is the second person in Jacksonville charged this week in connection with a violent attack on a victim thought to be transgender. Sean Bernard Phoenix, 21, was charged with second-degree murder last Tuesday in the February 2018 shooting death of Celine Walker, a transgender woman. 
Four transgender women were killed in Jacksonville last year alone, almost 20 percent of the 22 reported killings of trans women across the United States in 2018, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The string of transgender murders led the Daily Beast to refer to the northeastern Florida city as “America’s Transgender Murder Capital” in a November 2018 article.
While the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office did not mention the victim's gender in its social media posts about the incident and did not respond to NBC News' requests for additional information about the victim, several local news outlets reported that the victim is transgender. Paige Mahogany Parks, head of the Jacksonville-based Transgender Awareness Project, told NBC News that she visited the neighborhood where the attack took place and was told by several people the victim is transgender. "The trans community doesn't feel safe with all these murders that have been happening here," Parks told NBC News.
When asked whether she thinks the broader LGBTQ community also feels unsafe, Parks said no.
"It's so split here in Jacksonville," she replied. "Other than the trans girls, everyone else is fine."

March 20, 2019

A Mob of 10 Men Attacks a Gay Man in Arizona

Phoenix assault
 A gay man in Phoenix says he was attacked by several people on Friday night in a case that police are now investigating, a local Arizona CBS affiliate reports. 
Cesar Marin, the survivor of the attack, says that he felt someone hit him from behind and on his side.
“I didn’t know that I was surrounded by people,” he told 3TV/CBS5. The attack occurred in downtown Phoenix. Marin was driving home when a woman jaywalked in front of his car, prompting him to push his brakes.
Marin said in a public Facebook post that the woman walked to the side of his vehicle, flicked a cigarette at his face then called him a faggot.

Marin said that he did a U-turn and pulled over and got out of his car to search for the lit cigarette to prevent a fire. That’s when he was attacked.
“Before I knew it, I was surrounded in a hail of punches. One guy kicked me in the face when I fell down,” Marin says. He added that the attackers broke his nose and he now has several bruises.
Marin says a bystander intervened and he was taken to the hospital.
According to Marin, there are decals on his car that have rainbows on them, meaning the woman may have been able to tell just from his car that he was gay.
Despite the use of the slur, Phoenix police have not confirmed that they’re treating the case as a hate crime, according to 3TV/CBS5.
Marin’s story comes less than a month after a Salt Lake City man caught his homophobic assault on camera. 

November 2, 2018

Surge in Paris Homophobic Attacks

The figures tell one story; gay activists fear another.
But nobody disputes that Paris has suffered a string of homophobic attacks in recent months, with gay men set upon in a chic inner-city neighborhood and a trans prostitute shot dead in a popular cruising spot in the French capital.
Yet police say their data show a strong drop in homophobic attacks, so the mood among activists has turned angry, fear of the what-next jostling with frustration at perceived inaction by authorities in a city with a reputation for tolerance.
Sitting in the lounge of Paris's LGBT Centre, 68-year-old activist Arnaud Rault told Reuters he felt "on edge" following the rise in anti-gay violence.
"We saw August as a signal," Rault said, referring to the murder of Vanesa Campos, a Peruvian transgender prostitute who was shot dead in Paris' Bois du Boulogne.
Earlier this month, two men were harassed and beaten by a Paris taxi driver for kissing in his cab in the "city of love."
The couple immediately pressed charges.
Police have logged a 37 percent drop in reports of LGBT+ related attacks during the first nine months of this year, with 74 incidents reported against 118 in the same period of 2017.
However, activists say the numbers do not tell the whole story as many assaults go unreported.
"[The police figures] are not representative, since not all victims of LGBT violence file an official complaint," said Joel Deumier, president of SOS Homophobie.
The organization, which runs a free hotline service so LGBT+ victims of assault can report the attacks anonymously, said it had received a 15 percent increase in calls over the past year
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community protest against discrimination and violence, at the Place de la Republique in Paris, France, Oct. 21, 2018.
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community protest against discrimination and violence, at the Place de la Republique in Paris, France, Oct. 21, 2018.
In response, the Paris Prefecture told Reuters that its job was to "collect statistics based on reported assaults." As for providing any additional numbers, the police said "that's where the work of NGOs comes in."
According to SOS Homophobie's 2018 report on homophobia in France, one LGBT+ person is assaulted every three days.
Take to the streets
More than 3,000 people — including members of French President Emmanuel Macron's government — gathered Sunday in Paris to denounce the violence and demand action.
"The government must take concrete measures to contain this wave of homophobia," said Deumier, who demanded the government increase its annual 500,000 euros ($570,000) budget allocated toward fighting anti-LGBT+ hate.
Addressing the crowd, Guillaume Melanie, president of Urgence Homophobie, an organization that helps LGBT+ people to seek asylum in France, recounted how he had been assaulted just days earlier in an attack that had left his nose broken.
"I didn't steal anything, I didn't insult anyone, I didn't attack anyone. I'm just homosexual," Melanie told Reuters at the demonstration.
Melanie says he was punched in the face and verbally harassed while leaving a restaurant in the Marais, an elegant Paris district with a strong gay culture.
Shortly after posting about his assault on social media, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the recent series of homophobic attacks "calls for a collective action."
The deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire, who attended Sunday's rally, said he and Hidalgo would meet a number of LGBT+ associations, police representatives and other government organizations over the coming weeks to work out next steps.
They would seek to establish a response to what he called the "resurgence of homophobic violence."
Possible extension of gay rights
The attacks come as France considers legalizing assisted reproduction for gay women — a campaign promise by the centrist president. The move would mark a significant extension of gay rights in France, where violent protests preceded the legalization of same-sex marriage and adoption by homosexual couples in 2013.
France's gender equality minister Marlene Schiappa insisted the Macron government was working to suppress the current spate of violence.
"The state is with them," she told a television reporter.
"Homophobia is not an opinion, you do not have the right in France to threat, aggress, insult or discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation."

October 31, 2018

What If Because You Are Gay Get Attacked By This Ugly Couple Wielding a Big Ugly Knife?

By Tim Fitzsimons

As they wound down a “lovely” day of snorkeling, picnicking and hiking on Wisteria Island, Keith Miller and Jeff Pellissier were preparing to head back to Key West. The recently married couple from West Hollywood, California, then saw a boat traveling toward them at high speed.
“I heard loud people in a skiff coming toward the island, and I mentioned to Keith, ‘I hope they’re not going to be landing near us, they sound noisy, they sound a bit drunk,’” Pellissier said. “We started to put things away in the boat because I thought something might be happening, so I wanted to be ready.”

Christopher Yarema and Stephanie Burnham
Christopher Yarema and Stephanie BurnhamMonroe County Sheriff's Dept

Christopher Thomas John Yarema, 43, and Stephanie Lynn Burnham, 35, arrived quickly. The pair hopped out into the knee-deep water, where Miller was standing.
“The man yelled, ‘Hey, Speedo man, what are you doing here, get the f*** off my island, you fag,’” Pellissier, 59, said in an interview with NBC News.
According to the Miami Herald, the island is a “makeshift community for the homeless,” and Burnham’s address in the police report is listed as the “streets of Key West.” Wisteria Island is also popular with day-trippers from Key West.
“The only thing we said is 'We are leaving, and we want nothing but peace,'” Miller, 61, said.
Pellissier said Burnham punched him in the face, broke his sunglasses and hit him with an oar. She also shouted that the couple had “five seconds” to get off the island, or she would kill them, Pellissier recalled. Then Yarema brandished a four-inch blade at Pellissier but missed because Miller pushed their inflatable dinghy in between them. After Yarema missed and sunk his blade into the dinghy, he stabbed it multiple times, deflating several of its compartments, the men said.
The two men managed to get back into the dinghy and made it back to their sailboat before the smaller craft sank. The Coast Guard, responding to the tourists’ call for help, said it found the dinghy “completely deflated,” according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office report. Yarema and Burnham were both arrested.
According to the police report, Yarema “remembered his wife getting into an argument with the people near his campsite, but does not remember anything else. He stated that when he woke up, Coat [sic] Guard was requesting him to follow them to the station.” Burnham was charged with battery and causing property damage, while Yarema was charged with third-degree aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill and first-degree battery.
Adam Linhardt, a spokesperson for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, said that Florida state attorneys will determine whether hate crime charges would be filed.
“The words they used left little to the imagination,” Linhardt said. “Whether or not a hate crime is what these people are ultimately charged with would be up to the state prosecutors.”
Reached by telephone Monday by NBC News, Val Winter, the assistant state attorney for Monroe County, said his office does not comment on pending cases. “We typically have 30 days to make our filing decision” regarding hate crimes, Winter said. The couple told NBC News that they felt certain Burnham and Yarema intended to kill them. “They stabbed with the intent to kill me,” Pellissier said. “Jeff and I are just grateful that we got away [with] our lives,” Miller said.
Stratton Pollitzer, the deputy director of statewide LGBTQ rights group Equality Florida, said the group has seen a “dramatic surge in hate violence impacting many communities. Worse, the flames of hatred are being fanned by the current administration.”
“Thankfully, arrests have been made in this incident which helps to reinforce the vital message that hate crimes will bring action and accountability,” Pollitzer added. “We all need to cultivate the courage to intercede when we see anyone being verbally or physically assaulted like this. We have to be a counterbalance to the swaggering hatred."
According to the most recent FBI hate crimes data, 17 percent of all hate crime victims in the U.S. in 2016 were targeted because of their sexual orientation, and most of those victims were gay men.

NBC News

August 26, 2018

FaceBook Targeted Young Gays with Conversion Therapy Ads!

Facebook targeted young LGBTQ people with ads and videos touting “sexual purity” and gay “cures” that could turn them straight.
The Telegraph reported on several conversion therapy ads appearing recently in the feeds of queer Facebook users in the UK. When they clicked on the “Why am I seeing this ad?” button on the ads, the members were told it was because Facebook saw they were interested in “gender issues.” 
Facebook targeted one lesbian with a video called “Homosexuality Was My Identity,” aimed at promoting conversion therapy, because she had “liked” LGBTQ pages.
“I don’t know why Facebook has permitted this group to target LGBTQ people, who have intentionally sought out community and education amongst peers, for shaming and hatred masked as love,” the woman, Tessa Ann Schwarz, told the Telegraph. Schwarz flagged the video (below) and told Facebook it was “really upsetting.” 
 The video was produced by an online evangelical group calling itself Anchored North. Started by three twentysomethings with backgrounds in marketing, Anchored North bills itself as “using media and evangelism to reach the lost with the gospel in a way that has never been done before.”
“Just as a missionary goes abroad to reach the unreached, Anchored North is going to the mission field of the internet to reach the 1.6 billion online video viewers with the gospel and connect them with local churches.”
Another ad sent to a young gay man promoted the book Evangelical Man, Same-Sex Attraction, which touts celibacy as a means to achieve “sexual purity and sexual peace.”
Facebook targeted
“There was nothing overtly homophobic about the ad I saw itself,” admitted Alistair Ryder, “but it was written in a way to try to appeal to people who may be depressed or self loathing due to their sexuality.”
Of course, Facebook has come under major criticism for the way its algorithms deliver ads and other content, especially for promoting misleading, manipulative or outright fraudulent posts.
The company’s advertiser policy forbids ads “that discriminates against, harasses, provokes or disparages people,” but the social media giant still struggles to vet the massive volume of ads it receives. And advertisers have become savvy about framing their content to avoid being flagged. Often its left to users to let the site know when something is harassing or predatory. Critics say that’s not good enough.
“Targeted advertising is aggressive and manipulative, using personal and private information to exploit people’s innermost fears, desires and prejudices,” Griff Ferris of the UK civil rights group Big Brother Watch told the Telegraph. “Therefore it must be restricted to protect people’s rights.”
A Facebook representative says the specific gay cure ads referenced by the Telegraph are no longer on the site.


 This Ridiculous New Study Is Still Trying to Prove Conversion Therapy Actually Works

ex-gay study teaser week's top stories
Anti-gay groups are crowing over a “new” study that proves so-called ex-gay conversion therapy really works. There are only four problems with this study: (1) It’s based on old data from 2011, (2) its flawed methodology proves nothing, (3) two of its main authors include a non-certified psychologist and a “semi-retired earth scientist” and (4) it was published in a journal with the goal of upholding the Catholic faith. Nice try, fellas.
Read the full story here.

June 5, 2018

This Guy Went Around Doing the Bill Cosby Thing to Guys, Caught, Facing 23 yrs

Sam Ashley
 This ugly dude can make other dudes happy in jail for the next 23 years except this time he might not be the one using force, how about that?
A man who used a gay dating app to find victims he could drug and rape has been jailed for 23 years. 
Sam Ashley, 30, contacted men on Grindr before meeting them in Portsmouth, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
Ashley would then drug them without their knowledge and attack once they were left in a "stupefied" state.
He was found guilty at Portsmouth Crown Court of four rapes, four charges of administering a substance with intent and two counts of attempted rape.
Ashley, also know by the surname Davis, from Fareham, had denied all 10 charges which related to attacks in 2016.
He met three of his victims on Grindr and one at a rugby club, the CPS said.
Three of the men raped had their drinks spiked while another thought he was being offered painkiller tablets for a headache. 

'Dangerous and manipulative'

Lindsay Pennell, of the CPS, said: "Ashley went on to rape or attempted to rape three of the victims while they were stupefied as a result of consuming the drugs GHB, diazepam, zopiclone or a combination."
She added Ashley had been convicted thanks to expert evidence from a consultant toxicologist and the testimony of the victims. 
Det Insp James Stewart, of Hampshire Constabulary, said he hoped the sentence would help Ashley's victims "move forward with their lives". 
"Ashley is a dangerous and manipulative man who befriended and deceived his victims, which has understandably had a profound impact on the victims and their friends and families," he said.
"I hope this case encourages other victims of sexual offences to come forward."

April 24, 2018

Gay Student Attacked At Delaware University

 Resting on his bed in his Newark home with a broken leg, Rancel Valdez describes the assault at an off-campus party near the University of Delaware Friday night which could lead to hate crime charges, according to Newark Police Department.

Newark, Del., police are investigating an assault reported at a University of Delaware fraternity party held off-campus at about 6 p.m. April 13.
A group of men approached Rancel Valdez, a former student who is Hispanic and openly gay. One man made a homophobic remark, and a fight broke out, according to Delaware Online.
Valdez told NBC10 that the attack was unprompted. “They were just being rude, telling me to leave, calling me names,” Valdez said. “I didn’t even look their way or nothing. They all just came to me.”
Valdez was hospitalized for a leg fracture. The injury will come at some cost to Valdez, as he won’t be able to work for a month and does not have health insurance, according to an online fund-raising page set up by a friend. The page had raised over $2,000 as of Sunday.
The investigation could result in hate crime charges if police find that the attack was related to Valdez's sexuality, Newark police told Delaware Online. Witnesses told police that the attackers used degrading language, said Sergeant Gerald Bryda, a spokesperson for the Newark Police Department.
SpeQtrum, an organization for LGBTQ students of color at Delaware, called the assault a hate crime in a statement published on Twitter Thursday. The organization urged the university to address "the toxic culture on campus" by making changes including training members of Greek life on assault, homophobia, transphobia, sexism and white supremacy and creating a resource center for LGBTQ students.
"You are not alone in this world; we are here together, even if you haven't connected with us yet, we stand with you," the statement said.
The college has been "monitoring the situation throughout the week, and representatives of the university are speaking with all involved," Andrea Boyle, university spokesperson, said in an interview Sunday.
Delaware president Dennis Assanis sent an email to the campus community last week denouncing the attack.
“This kind of reprehensible behavior is not tolerated at the University of Delaware. We will take all appropriate measures in the student conduct process to ensure any offenders are held accountable for their actions,” Assanis wrote.

February 5, 2018

Ethan Staples 20, Found Guilty of Machete Attack on Gay Pride

A white supremacist who plotted a machete attack on people at a gay pride event has been convicted of a terror offense.
Ethan Stables, 20, planned to strike at the LGBT event at the New Empire pub in Barrow, Cumbria, in June 2017. 
He claimed he posted comments on Facebook to impress far-right friends and was "ashamed" as he was bisexual. 
Stables was found guilty of preparing an act of terrorism, threats to kill and possessing explosives. 
Leeds Crown Court heard he was planning to use an ax and machete during the attack, but the plan was foiled after he told people about it on Facebook.
Officers received a tip-off from a member of a far-right group, where he posted a message saying he was "going to war" and planned to "slaughter".
Armed police swooped on him as he walked towards the pub just before the event. 
Ethan StablesThe court was told Stables made a series of chilling Google searches including "I want to go on a killing spree", "how to make chemical poison" and "what is prison like for a murderer". 
He had also searched for how to make a bomb from matches, and police found a collection of cut-off match heads in his flat.
At other times he expressed his hatred of Muslims and Jews and said in a WhatsApp message: "My country is being raped. 
"I might just become a skinhead and kill people."


The right-wing extremist had a swastika hanging on his bedroom wall and bought a new Nazi armband after he was taken by the police when he was arrested. 
Ethan StablesJurors heard Stables was interested in the Columbine High School massacre and had been expelled from school following an incident in which he put another pupil in a headlock. 

Image copyrigh

 He became radicalized after a trip to Germany to see a young woman, his mother said. 
Stables claimed he was just a fantasist and had been "brainwashed" by right-wing extremists he met when he lived in hostels.
He was described by his barrister as "lonely and inadequate" and as having an autism spectrum condition.
Stables was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing later this week.

January 21, 2018

7 Violent Robberies From Dating App are Targeting Gay Men

Police are investigating whether seven robberies in Dallas last month were hate crimes because the victims were lured through the LGBT dating app Grindr. 
The attacks were reported throughout December in the southeast patrol division, police wrote in a memo to the Dallas City Council on Friday.

Police said that on Dec. 12 they arrested a 17-year-old suspect believed to be responsible for luring four of the victims to a vacant apartment on Chariot Drive earlier that day.

They are now investigating whether the teen could be responsible for the other attacks, though they say other suspects are at large. The teen's name has not been released.

One robbery was reported in the 8000 block of Rothington Road about 1:10 a.m. on Dec. 7. Two more robberies were also reported Dec. 7 and 8 at a vacant apartment in the 8000 block of Chariot.
Police said the victims were robbed and beaten.

Grindr is a dating app geared toward the gay community, and police said the suspect in the December crimes used the app to find victims.
"Criminals have been using dating apps to target victims in Dallas and other cities," police wrote in their memo. 

Violent crimes, which include murders and aggravated assaults, increased last year compared to 2016 but remained at historically low levels.

An annual review of violent crimes in Dallas showed declines in some areas last year — murders, for example, dropped from 172 to 165 — and increases in others: Rapes and aggravated assaults were on the rise.

Police advise people to research safe meeting locations for their dates, and to meet in well-lit areas. They also suggest telling a friend or loved one where you will be and for keeping a phone handy in case you need to call 911.

The December attacks remain under investigation, and Crime Stoppers is willing to pay as much as $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest.

Anyone with information about the robberies is asked to call police at 214-671-3584 or their local police department as soon as possible.
Anonymous tips can be submitted through Crime Stoppers at 214-373-8477.

The Police advises:

• Always research a safe meeting location and familiarize yourself with the area. 
• Always meet in a well-lighted, public place. 
• Never go alone. 
• Always meet during the day. 
• Keep your cellphone close and be ready to call 911 at the first sign of trouble. 
• Never give out personal or financial information. 
• Let someone know where you will be and who you will be meeting. 
• Leave if you feel uncomfortable.

December 4, 2017

Rugby Player Left With Fractured Eye in Horrendous Homophobic Attack

 RUGBY player Jonathan Castellari suffered a horrendous homophobic attack in Argentina which left him hospitalized with a fractured eye.
Jonathan was buying breakfast when we were jumped by seven men and savagely beaten up.

 Jonathan Castellari endured a fracture around his eye and needs stitches Jonathan Castellari endured a fracture around his eye and needs stitches

The player is a member of Ciervos Pampas Rugby Club, an organization that aims to fight discrimination against homophobia.
According to Marca, Castellari was with a friend at the time when the group of men started hurling insults in his direction.
He was then on the receiving end of beatings as pictures show him with a badly swollen eye and blood splattered on his shirt.
A statement from LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights in Argentina read: "From the Argentina LGBT Federation we are already accompanying them during this terrible moment and doing everything in our power to ensure that the justice system responds quickly and finds those responsible."

 Jonathan Castellari was beaten up by homophobic thugs 
Jonathan Castellari was beaten up by homophobic thugs

Lifelong friend Agustina Vivero uploaded a picture of Castellari to Twitter alongside the caption: "Today at 6am, a group attacked my friend to within an inch of his life, shouting 'F****t" and "F****** f****t'.  
 "It came just days after we were celebrating Gay Pride.
"He doesn't know how many stitches he will need and they need to operate after a fracture in some part of his eye. Everything hurts."
In a separate tweet, Vivero added: "Discrimination at work, bullying at school, going out on the street in fear of being beaten, just for loving someone of the same sex."
By Richard Forrester
The Sun Uk

September 29, 2017

Mass Arrests of Gays in Azerbaijan Excused by: "carry infectious diseases”

"Yes carrying the infectious disease of not bending over and letting you brake me"Adam

 "Azerbaijan one of the most cruelest countries on Earth"


Rights groups urged Azerbaijan on Thursday to release dozens of LGBT people from jail after activists alleged that mass arrests and abuses were being carried out in the central Asian nation.

International advocacy group ILGA said it was hard to gauge the scale of the alleged crackdown - reported to have stretched over the past two weeks - but said the Caucasian country was well known for its poor treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

Lawyers for some of those arrested said their clients had been subjected to beatings, verbal abuse and forced medical examinations, the group said.

The reports could not be independently verified.

Azeri authorities in London and Baku did not respond to a request for comment.

“There is no justification for this indiscriminate targeting of people perceived to be members of the LGBTI community,” said ILGA’s executive director in Europe, Evelyne Paradis.

“(We) are worried about the fate of the victims of these raids, and are calling for the immediate release of anyone still in detention,” she added in a statement.

British gay rights group Stonewall said the authorities had claimed the arrests were part of a crackdown on prostitution, but activists said LGBT people had been singled out.

Trans women have had their heads forcibly shaven, it added.

Local activists said at least 50 gay and trans people have been detained in police raids across the capital, Baku, over the past two weeks.

“Main streets, metro stations and LGBT-friendly places like clubs, pubs and bars are the main targets,” a Baku-based activist, who preferred to remain anonymous, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation over WhatsApp.

Civil Rights Defenders, a human rights group based in Sweden, said the number of arrests could run into the hundreds, adding many were released only after giving up the addresses of fellow members of the LGBT community.

Speaking to local news agency APA, an interior ministry spokesman denied the raids singled out any sexual minorities, suggesting they were related to public order.

“The arrested are people who demonstratively show lack of respect toward others, annoy citizens and are believed by health authorities to carry infectious diseases,” spokesman Eskhan Zakhidov was quoted as saying.

Being gay is not illegal in Azerbaijan but the post-Soviet, Caucasian country was ranked the worst in Europe for LGBT people in a 2016 survey by ILGA.

The alleged arrests followed a crackdown on LGBT people in nearby Chechnya, where more than 100 gay men were believed to have been rounded up and tortured earlier this year.

(Thomson Reuters Foundation)  

Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

August 9, 2017

Gay Family Sues After Their 6 Bedroom House is Burnt Down

Tensions were high between the residents of Hitchcock, Okla., and Randy Gamel-Medler when his six-bedroom dream home burned down earlier this year in a suspicious fire. 
Hitchcock is a town like many others in the largely agrarian state — a rural community of a little over 100 people that a handful of families have called home for generations. Gamel-Medler, 59, moved there from Fort Worth, Texas, in 2014 to begin renovations on his retirement home, a fixer-upper that used to be the judge's house, and to give his young son the backyard he always wanted. 
Randy Gamel-Medler and his family. Courtesy of Randy Gamel-Medler
Gamel-Medler went to work upgrading the house and started getting involved in local politics. It wasn't long before he became the town clerk. It was then that he and the locals began to feud over how the town should be run. 
Along with the fire that burned down his home (and is currently under criminal investigation), Gamel-Medler described a number of interactions with locals that provide the basis for his civil rights lawsuit, filed on August 3, against nine residents of Blaine County, Okla., including Sheriff Tony Almaguer, Undersheriff David Robertson, Hitchcock Mayor Rick Edsall and six others. 
"What Are You Going to Do When Your House Burns Down?"
According to Gamel-Medler, he had a disturbing interaction with one of the town's trustees at a September 2016 board meeting, which occurred just one month after he brought his 7-year-old son, who is African-American, to live with him and his husband in Hitchcock. 
"Meredith Norris, one of the trustees, had seen him in the yard and asked if he was our son," Gamel-Medler told NBC News. "She said to me, 'What are you going to do when your house burns down and we don't send out the fire trucks?'" 
According to the lawsuit, Gamel-Medler filed a police report afterward with the Blaine County Sheriff's Office, but no criminal action was taken. 
We're Not "Racist and Homophobic"
Gamel-Medler also recalled an incident in early May, a few weeks before the fire, where Jonita Pauls Jacks, who is named in the lawsuit, allegedly attempted to enter his car while he was performing his duties on the road as town clerk. When he locked the door, he said Jacks shook his truck and said, "You f-----g queer, I’m going to grab your little boy, rip his n----r head off and sh-t down his throat." 
Gamel-Medler said he immediately brought the incident to Sheriff Almaguer, who allegedly said Jacks was practicing free speech. "No report, nobody does anything," Gamel-Medler said. 
Undersheriff Robertson vehemently denied any racism or homophobia from the townsfolk, though he confirmed the feuds. 
"I got to know him very well from all the complaints and allegations that he made, and I cannot find one person who made any racist statements against his child or against him for being a homosexual," Robertson told the Associated Press. "We don't take too kindly to being called racist and homophobic because we're not." 
NBC News was told by the Blaine County Sheriff's Office that Sheriff Almaguer would not be available to comment on the case until next week, and the other defendants could not be reached for comment. 
"The Town Clerk Is a F-----g Queer"
Gamel-Medler said many of the townspeople didn't hide their homophobic views and claimed the deputy sheriff and undersheriff were aware of it. A few days before his house burned down, he said two of the people named in the suit, Kenny, and Patsy Meier, erected a sign in front of the post office, where he and his son often walked, that read "The town clerk is a f-----g queer." 
"Patsy admitted to the deputy that she and her husband had put up the sign in front of the post office," Gamel-Medler claimed. "The deputy said, 'Ms. Meier, you just admitted to a hate crime.' Then the undersheriff shows up, and there's no crime. They just let it go." 
It was then, Gamel-Medler said, that a sheriff's deputy not named in the lawsuit advised him to get out of town, allegedly saying, "These people are serious. They're going to kill you, they're going to kill your son, and they're going to burn your house down." 
"Everything That We Had Is Gone"
On May 28, the night his house burned down, Gamel-Medler said he heard a noise like glass breaking in his garage. He called the sheriff to report a burglary, then saw a fire in his garage and called the fire department. Despite being a block away from the fire station, Gamel-Medler alleged the department did nothing for an extended period of time. 
"No sirens, no calls to other towns. They didn't even save the grass," he said. "All of my family records dating back to the Civil War, photographs, the first seven years of my son's life, his karate trophy, his bike, his baptism book, all gone." 
The lawsuit alleges that some Hitchcock residents, including defendants Patsy and Kenny Meier, watched the fire from their lawn chairs nearby. 
Undersheriff Robertson told the Associated Press that Gamel-Medler's story about the fire is inconsistent with the evidence. There are currently separate investigations into the fire being conducted by the Blaine County Sheriff's Department, an insurance company, and the state fire marshal's office, according to Robertson, but no charges have yet been filed in connection with the blaze. 
Gamel-Medler said any suggestion he is involved in the fire is outrageous. "We lost everything from 27 years," he said. "Everything that we had is gone." 
"Intersection of Hate"
Troy Stevenson, executive director of Freedom Oklahoma, called the situation in Hitchcock "horrific" and said it shows the "intersection of hate aimed at both the African-American and LGBTQ communities." 
"I've never seen anything like this. It's like something out of the '50s or '60s," Stevenson told NBC News 
Gamel-Medler has since moved to El Paso, Texas. He said ideally he would go back to Hitchcock, but he has been warned not to, and he said he would be concerned for his family's safety. 
"The part that bothers me the most is, I should be able to go anywhere in Oklahoma and live anywhere I want and live peacefully with my son," he said. "But I can’t. Not in Hitchcock." 
 NBC Out 

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