Showing posts with label gay hate Crime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gay hate Crime. Show all posts

September 27, 2019

NYPD Investigating Alleged Hate Crime in Which 2 Gay Customers Were Beaten





NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police are investigating a possible hate crime in Jackson Heights, Queens.
The NYPD says two men eating together were beaten up at a restaurant.
The pair tell CBS2 they were eating at a restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue when a group of men started yelling anti-gay slurs at them.

The men say their angry workers didn’t step in to help, but the restaurant has a different story.
Alberto Cruz had to receive stitches for his wounds.
“A lot of blood,” the 36-year-old said.
“My nose is still broken,” said Daniel Dominguez.
The two men who are roommates say they were eating at Pollos Mario around 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 12 when a group of guys started yelling anti-gay slurs at them.
“Everything happened so fast from one minute to another we were surrounded by all of them. They hit me first. They hit me with a bottle or glass,” said Dominguez.
“It’s scary because five people around the table so obviously they’re going to do something,” Cruz added.
They allege none of the restaurant workers stepped in to help them.
Dominguez says he has pictures and videos of the men but police told him not to share anything yet. People with the restaurant say they have video too.
“You guys are not getting the whole story and I think it will come out,” said Jackeline Franco, an employee at Pollos Mario. “You cannot start something and then victimize yourself for it.
“The manager tried to stop the fight multiple times,” she said.
They too say they’re not allowed to share video yet.
Outside the restaurant, LGBTQ activists and other community organizations gathered including the newly created Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes in New York City.
“We will not tolerate discrimination particularly against the LGBTQ community,” said Deborah Lauter, executive director of the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes.
Activists are calling for more resources to train local businesses on how to de-escalate situations like this confrontation.
“I’m still scared and nervous,” said Dominguez.
The group of men fled after the alleged attack. An investigation by the city’s hate crimes task force is still ongoing.

August 27, 2019

Eight Grader In Indiana Beat at Locker room Because of Him Being Gay




Image result for gay boy attacked at locker room


An eighth-grader in Indiana says he was violently beaten by a classmate because he's gay.

"I was in the locker room after the third-period gym," the victim, a student at Alexandria-Monroe High School, told WISH Channel 8. "And the guy who attacked me was standing at my locker, being creepy. He asked, 'What are you doing?' I was like, 'I'm changing.'"

The eighth-grader, who requested anonymity identified his attacker as a 10th-grader. He said the two had gym together but were not friends and rarely interacted. 

"[He] started shoving me with his shoulder," the victim told WISH. "He hit me two times in the head and then hit my face against the mirror. And then [he hit me] a couple more times to my face—and then someone pulled him off." 

He believes the older student attacked him "because of my sexuality."

Two students recorded footage of the assault, authorities confirmed. The fact that they had their phones at the ready, says the victim, suggests it was a planned attacked.

On Friday Alexandria police confirmed they were investigating the incident but "[had] not uncovered any evidence" the victim's sexual orientation played a part, according to the network. "They're trying to say it's not a hate crime," the victim's mother told WISH. "Well, what else do you call it?"

She was on school grounds for a parent-teacher conference when the attack happened, was sent a clip of the assault by a friend.

"I thought I was going to throw up," she said. "In the video, you see my son is backed up against the wall, kind of like a corner of the concrete wall by the mirror. This kid's in front of him and there are kids on either side, blocking his escape. [The 10th-grader] just squats down and starts wailing on his face and head."

The video reportedly shows the student punching her son four times. "It all happened so fast," said the eighth-grader. "The whole thing lasted under a minute."

He reportedly suffered a broken nose, bruised eye, and scratches behind his ear. "I don't really feel anything yet," he said. "I'm kind of numb."

In a statement, Alexandria Community Schools superintendent Melissa Brisco said the district "was deeply troubled by Tuesday's assault."

"We want to assure our families and community that we will continue to work hard to provide a safe, caring and supportive learning environment for all our students," she added. As of Friday night, no charges had been filed. 


 An eighth grader in Indiana says he was violently beaten by a classmate because he's gay.

"I was in the locker room after third period gym," the victim, a student at Alexandria-Monroe High School, told WISH Channel 8. "And the guy who attacked me was standing at my locker, being creepy. He asked, 'What are you doing?' I was like, 'I'm changing.'"

The eighth grader, who requested anonymity identified his attacker as a 10th-grader. He said the two had gym together but were not friends and rarely interacted.

Classmates videoed the assault, violating the school's ban on phones, and texted it to others.
GETTY IMAGES
"[He] started shoving me with his shoulder," the victim told WISH. "He hit me two times in the head and then hit my face against the mirror. And then [he hit me] a couple more times to my face—and then someone pulled him off."


He believes the older student attacked him "because of my sexuality."

Two students recorded footage of the assault, authorities confirmed. The fact that they had their phones at the ready, says the victim, suggests it was a planned attacked.

On Friday Alexandria police confirmed they were investigating the incident but "[had] not uncovered any evidence" the victim's sexual orientation played a part, according to the network. "They're trying to say it's not a hate crime," the victim's mother told WISH. "Well, what else do you call it?"

She was on school grounds for a parent-teacher conference when the attack happened, was sent a clip of the assault by a friend.

"I thought I was going to throw up," she said. "In the video, you see my son is backed up against the wall, kind of like a corner of the concrete wall by the mirror. This kid's in front of him and there are kids on either side, blocking his escape. [The 10th-grader] just squats down and starts wailing on his face and head."

The video reportedly shows the student punching her son four times. "It all happened so fast," said the eighth-grader. "The whole thing lasted under a minute."

He reportedly suffered a broken nose, bruised eye and scratches behind his ear. "I don't really feel anything yet," he said. "I'm kind of numb."

In a statement Alexandria Community Schools superintendent Melissa Brisco said the district "was deeply troubled by Tuesday's assault."

"We want to assure our families and community that we will continue to work hard to provide a safe, caring and supportive learning environment for all our students," she added. As of Friday night, no charges had been filed.

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A hate-crimes law signed in April by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb allows judges to impose harsher sentences for criminals who victimize others based on race, religion and sexual orientation, among other traits.
He believes the older student attacked him "because of my sexuality."
Two students recorded footage of the assault, authorities confirmed. The fact that they had their phones at the ready, says the victim, suggests it was a planned attacked.
On Friday Alexandria police confirmed they were investigating the incident but "[had] not uncovered any evidence" the victim's sexual orientation played a part, according to the network. "They're trying to say it's not a hate crime," the victim's mother told WISH. "Well, what else do you call it?"
She was on school grounds for a parent-teacher conference when the attack happened, was sent a clip of the assault by a friend.
"I thought I was going to throw up," she said. "In the video, you see my son is backed up against the wall, kind of like a corner of the concrete wall by the mirror. This kid's in front of him and there are kids on either side, blocking his escape. [The 10th-grader] just squats down and starts wailing on his face and head."
The video reportedly shows the student punching her son four times. "It all happened so fast," said the eighth-grader. "The whole thing lasted under a minute."
He reportedly suffered a broken nose, bruised eye and scratches behind his ear. "I don't really feel anything yet," he said. "I'm kind of numb."
In a statement Alexandria Community Schools superintendent Melissa Brisco said the district "was deeply troubled by Tuesday's assault."
"We want to assure our families and community that we will continue to work hard to provide a safe, caring and supportive learning environment for all our students," she added. As of Friday night, no charges had been filed.
A hate-crimes law signed in April by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb allows judges to impose harsher sentences for criminals who victimize others based on race, religion and sexual orientation, among other traits.

July 24, 2019

Russian LGBT Activist Knived To Death


A prominent Russian LGBT activist who had been featured on a blocked website that encourages people to “hunt down” sexual minorities has been killed in St. Petersburg.
The website, inspired by the “Saw” horror film franchise and which encourages visitors to track down and assault people believed to be LGBT, was blocked in Russia last week. 
Yelena GrigoryevaDinar Idrisov / Facebook
Yelena Grigoriyeva was found with multiple stab wounds and signs of strangulation near her home over the weekend, fellow activists said on social media.
The activist had regularly received death threats and reported them to the police, who did nothing to protect her before she was murdered, fellow activist Dinar Idrisov wrote on Facebook on Monday.
“A reminder: Yelena was listed on the homophobic ‘Saw’ website which has long threatened LGBT activists across the country,” photojournalist Georgy Markov wrote.
Grigoriyeva had been stabbed at least eight times, the St. Petersburg Fontanka.ru news website reported.
A suspect in her killing was reported to have been detained. 
Grigoriyeva had maintained an active stance on a range of issues, according to the Mediazona news website. It reported that over the past year she had been detained at rallies against torture and the Chechen-Ingush land swap, as well as at LGBT protests.
Rights activists say violent homophobic attacks have become more frequent since Russia banned “homosexual propaganda” toward minors in 2013. Recent polling suggested that Russian attitudes toward equal rights for LGBT people were at a 14-year high.

             Image result for Yelena Grigoryeva




LGBT rights campaigner Yelena Grigoryeva Yelena Grigoryeva, an LGBT rights campaigner in Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg, has been killed, the local online newspaper Fontanka reported citing police.

She was found dead with multiple stab wounds on July 20 near her house and apparently was strangled, according to Fontanka as well as a Facebook post by opposition campaigner Dinar Idrisov and the Russian LGBT Network.

Idrisov said Grigoryeva had received multiple threats both online and offline.

Aside from LGBT causes, Grigoryeva opposed Russia’s seizure of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and took part in rallies in support of political prisoners.

"Recently she has frequently been a victim of violence and received murder threats," Idrisov said. Grigoryeva "filed complaints to the police regarding the violence and the threats, but there was no reaction."

It is not clear whether the police are investigating her death as a hate crime.

Based on reporting by the AFP, Fontanka, and Meduza.

Protests in Moscow Against "Putin, Lier"


More than 10,000 people have gathered in Moscow to protest against the controversial ban of some opposition candidates from Moscow city-council elections set for September. The July 20 rally was addressed by leading figures of the Russian nonparliamentary opposition, including anticorruption activist Aleksei Navalny and Lyubov Sobol, who is one of the excluded candidates.

{Radio Free Europe}

July 18, 2019

A 22 Yr Old Gets Beaten Unconscious For “Being Gay” On A Gay Hate Crime


                                                         

 

By
Bradley JollyOnline journalist

A receptionist says he was knocked unconscious 'for being gay' in a sickening homophobic attack after a night out.
Ryan Williams has shared graphic photos of his facial injuries suffered in the beating.
The 22-year-old says he was thumped over the head, repeatedly kicked in the face and left wounded on the floor in Preston, Lancashire.
Police said the attack is being treated as a hate crime
“I never thought in my life that I would get beaten up for being gay," the hotel receptionist wrote in a heartfelt message on Facebook. 
"Wtf has this world actually come too, you’re all vile and disgusting! I want people to understand that being gay isn't a choice and I can’t help it, I’m sorry that you can’t deal with it but hey ho no need to knock someone out because of it. 
  
"I seriously can not believe that a homophobic attack happens. Which it does and it’s wrong. Stand strong and love yourself, this isn’t gonna stop me from being fabulous. Being gay is OK."
More than 110,000 people - including strangers from across the globe - have liked the status and left messages of support.
Ryan, who needed treatment at Royal Preston Hospital after Saturday's attack, said: “My friends and I were heading to McDonald's for something to eat after a night out.
"I never thought in my life that I would get beaten up for being GAY! Wtf has this world actually come too, you’re all vile and disgusting! I want people to understand that being gay ISNT a choice and I can’t help it, I’m sorry that you can’t deal with it but hey ho no need to knock someone out because of it! I seriously can not believe that a homophonic attack happens! Which it does and it’s wrong! Stand strong and love yourself, this isn’t gonna stop me from being fabulous! BEING GAY IS OK!"
 “There was a group of people nearby in the street and they started calling me and my friends gay.
“We went over and told them it’s not okay to say things like that.
“As I walked away then one of them ran after me and he hit me in the back of the head.”
Ryan, of Preston, is aiding police with the investigation.
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “We were called around 6.30am on Saturday (July 13) following reports of an assault in Friargate, Preston.  
"A man in his 20s had been punched by another man close to McDonald's. The offender then made off from the scene with two men and a woman.
"The victim was knocked unconscious suffering facial injuries. He later was taken to Royal Preston Hospital for treatment.
"The assault is being investigated as a hate crime and inquiries are on-going.
"Anyone with information can contact police on 101 quoting log 0311 of July 13." 

June 27, 2019

The Theory That Justified Anti-Gay Crime}} Enclosed a Collage of Victims and Victimizers Direct&mouth














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By Caleb Crain

In the bad old days, newspapers rarely mentioned gay men except in a certain kind of true-crime story. The first clue in the cases was often a body discovered in a hotel room. In 1920, the forty-seven-year-old scion of a New England piano-making family was found in New York’s Plymouth Hotel with “a fractured jaw and skull and deep wound over his left eye,” the New York Daily News reported. In 1936, the wrists and ankles of a thirty-five-year-old interior decorator were found trussed with lamp cord and radio wire, with two neckties and a towel twisted around his neck. The police weren’t always able to identify a killer, but, when they did, it often turned out to be younger man of a lower socioeconomic status. In 1949, for instance, it was a twenty-five-year-old parking-lot attendant who broke the neck of a wealthy fifty-five-year-old visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

The victims and killers had often just met, in casual circumstances, which puzzled some readers. Why would a man take the risk of inviting a strange man to his room? Reporters were sometimes coy. When the battered corpse of a writer of detective novels turned up in 1937, the Washington Post described him as the “victim of as sinister a mystery as ever he produced in book form.” In other newspaper accounts, however, reporters delivered, with relish, details about a victim that suggested a queer life, in which a motive for such risk-taking would presumably be found. The Philadelphia Inquirer catalogued “rich oriental rugs,” “hundreds of books,” a “large collection of classical recordings,” and “subdued but costly” furniture in the home of a lawyer strangled in 1953. After a thirty-four-year-old business student was discovered decomposing in his underwear in 1956, a reporter for the Washington Post noted a “pink pillowslip found looped around the man’s neck.”

The probable explanation of these not-quite mysteries: a gay man had had the bad luck to pick up a sociopath. While stigma shadowed homosexuality, bedding a new lover was especially risky for gay men. The search for partners had to take place in what one nineteen-fifties social psychologist called “the twilight zone between the law-abiding and the criminal.” Assaulters knew that gay men who were assaulted rarely went to the police, for fear of having their orientation exposed and being arrested themselves. Moreover, even when an intimate attack ended in death, the law was sometimes lenient with a gay man’s killer. A judge might spare a victim’s family the “embarrassment” of a full-dress trial, for example. And, time and again, killers won lighter sentences by claiming to have been surprised by what newspapers euphemistically described as “indecent advances” or “improper proposals” from the deceased. For most of the twentieth century, it was widely believed that “normal” men sometimes reacted to a homosexual invitation with lethal violence, and the claim of “indecent advances” figured so often in reports of murdered gay men that the hazard of such violence was one of the few things that many heterosexuals knew, or thought they knew, about gay life.

To shed light on these killings, the social conditions and psychological conflicts that gave rise to them, and the manipulative and sensationalist coverage that they often received in the press, the cultural historian James Polchin has written “Indecent Advances,” a grisly, sobering, comprehensively researched new history. The subject matter doesn’t make for light reading; Polchin admits to feeling “haunted” by what he discovered in archives. But it’s impossible to understand gay life in twentieth-century America without reckoning with the dark stories. Gay men were unable to shake free of them until they figured out how to tell the stories themselves, in a new way. 

“Indecent advances” is not only Polchin’s title; it’s a refrain, proffered by defendant after defendant. The legal strategy of claiming to have been enraged by a victim’s sexual overture was known as the homosexual-panic defense. One of the questions at the heart of Polchin’s book is whether the term “homosexual panic” described a real psychological response or was merely an ideological pretext. It’s easy to see how convenient the notion must have been to defendants, but it also would have been convenient to conservative elements in society who wanted to keep gay men in a state of fear, analogous to false claims of black-on-white rape that long contributed to threats of lynching and to the suppression of civil rights.

The oldest plea of homosexual panic in America seems to have been made in Massachusetts in 1868. Accused of killing a longtime friend, a young man named Samuel M. Andrews claimed that he had been driven into “transitory insanity” when the friend pushed him down, tore open his pantaloons, and said, “Now I’m going to have some, this time.” The word homosexual wouldn’t début in English for almost another two decades, but a fear of homosexuality was already being presented as a justification for killing a gay man. In the end, a jury did convict Andrews of manslaughter, perhaps because jurors were unable to square his claim that the overture had terrified and enraged him with his admission that his late friend had been making passes at him for the previous nine years, ever since an attempt on a memorable stormy evening that they had spent in bed together.

Andrews knew the man he killed quite well (there were hints that the victim had planned to make Andrews his heir) but, in many of the cases described in Polchin’s book, which span the years between the First World War and Stonewall, the likely inside story was more transactional: an older man had intended to hire a piece of “rough trade,” as young working-class men were then called when they identified as straight but were willing to have sex with other men for money. In an article from 1957 in Archives of Criminal Psychodynamics, a social psychologist explained the risky, ambiguous nature of such exchanges: 

By Benjamin Wallace-Wells
This provides a ready made situation for those who want to rob homosexuals. In by far the greater majority of cases, the actual sex relations will take place first, with the rationalization that the homosexuals will then not dare to report the theft to the police. With their homosexual desires satisfied, the guilt feelings may then be assuaged by robbing the host. Financial gain is of course an added incentive. In situations like this where the man who allows a homosexual to take him home is not conscious of his homosexual desires and is being led into the situation by unconscious drives, there is sometimes a panic reaction when he finds himself about to engage in overt homosexuality. Assault and even murder are apt to result.

As preposterous as the idea of homosexual panic may sound today, for much of the twentieth century it was treated as something like common sense. “When a beast attacks, you are justified in killing him,” is the way one defense attorney phrased the principle behind it, in 1940. The press, too, sometimes discussed the idea approvingly. The New York Daily News described a 1944 murder of a gay man as an “honor slaying.” In 1952, homosexual panic was listed as a mental disorder in the first edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, and, as late as the nineteen-nineties, the notion was still so current in the popular mind that a Christopher Street shop selling gay-themed T-shirts was called, in what seems to have been ironic homage, Don’t Panic.

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It turns out that the psychological concept has a less than illustrious origin. The term “homosexual panic,” Polchin reports, was coined by a psychiatrist named Edward Kempf, in a 1920 treatise titled “Psychopathology.” Polchin garbles a key quote from Kempf, printing “sexually attracted” where Kempf wrote “sexually attractive,” and I took a look at the relevant chapter to see if I could make sense of it. It’s understandable that Polchin got confused. Kempf’s text is neither lucid nor coherent.

Kempf theorized that homosexual panic emerged from “the pressure of uncontrollable perverse sexual cravings,” that is, from the frustration of homosexual urges that typically arose in same-sex environments, such as prison or the military. According to Kempf, symptoms of the panic included a fearfulness that could lead to catatonia, a “compulsion to seek or submit to assault,” and delusional perceptions of being poisoned or entranced. Indeed, the hallucinations and paranoid delusions that many of Kempf’s patients suffered from were quite serious. One patient imagined that broken pills were being surreptitiously put into his pudding; another went through spells of believing he was God.

What was wrong with the patients sounds much graver than suppressed homosexual urges, which, a century after Kempf, no longer seem as monstrous as they may have in his day. Polchin wonders if the men, many of whom were veterans of the First World War, were in shell shock—though an exact diagnosis now hardly matters. The puzzle for a historian to solve is why Kempf strained so hard to pin the misery of his patients on homosexuality. Some of the men in his care did have thoughts about homosexuality, and a few acted on their thoughts, but Kempf interpreted the panic of a man who ate metal polish as “clearly terror at his own homosexual eroticism,” and, when a patient simulated death by lying still on the floor, Kempf observed that “this usually means an offer of sexual submission.” He comes across as a doctor too focussed on his hobby horse to be able to see his patients.

Perhaps Kempf saw every cigar as much more than a cigar because he was under the spell of Freud. In 1911, Freud speculated that delusions of persecution were caused by an unconscious attempt to fend off the idea “I love him” by rewriting it as “He hates me.” The argument was so ingenious that it held sway in psychoanalytic thought for decades. Since Stonewall, however, it hasn’t worn well. Assessing the supposed link between paranoia and homosexuality in a monograph in 1988, the psychiatrist Richard C. Friedman dismissed the notion that “homosexuals are paranoid” as “of course false,” and also denied the corollary, writing, “Not all decompensating, dangerous paranoid patients have homosexual ideation.” Friedman acknowledged that mental illness, fear of homosexuality, and violence could intersect. He recalled that, while serving as a medical officer in the Army, he once examined a paranoid schizophrenic patient who, when Friedman offered him a seat, snarled, “So you think I’m queer,” and attacked; the patient had to be restrained by four men. But Friedman preferred to describe the motive for this kind of rage as “pseudohomosexual”—stemming from a conflicted wish for dependence on a powerful man, rather than from a conflicted wish to have sex with another man. Men who act out such rages, Friedman noted, are not always delusional, and they may direct their rage at women as well as at gay men. The opportunism with respect to targets seems telling.

It took a long time to demote homosexual panic from common sense to history. Polchin organizes his account roughly in chronological order, and from time to time, along the way, suggests that the pattern of the crimes, or at least the slant of the reporting on them, altered with the decades. He notes, for example, that ideas about homosexuality were in such flux in 1919 that, when the U.S. Navy tried to root it out of Newport, Rhode Island, where the Naval War College was in louche proximity to summer homes of the rich and famous, the Navy instructed its undercover investigators to “use your own judgment whether or not a full act is completed.” Somehow the Navy investigators were to think of themselves as set apart from the gay men with whom they were having sex. Polchin sees in the crimes and reporting of the nineteen-fifties, meanwhile, a tendency for heterosexual men to assert masculinity through “violent rejections of queerness,” and a tendency for journalists to drum up panics about geographic clusters of homosexuals. Homosexuals drew crime to a neighborhood because they were the natural prey of hoodlums, the journalists warned. Polchin’s historicizing observations seem valid and accurate, as far as they go, but, if a nineteen-thirties murder was a little more likely to start with hitchhiking, and a nineteen-sixties murder with a pickup in a bar, the variations seem minor compared with the transhistorical—almost ahistorical—sameness of the underlying pattern, a threat that seems to have been a constant presence in gay lives for most of the century.

A seed of change, however, was finally planted in the late nineteen-fifties, when the gay community began to write about such crimes themselves, making visible the complicity of the judicial system and the press in entrenching homophobia. In 1959, for example, the early gay-rights monthly ONE discussed a case in New Orleans in which three Tulane students murdered a man who, they claimed, had made an “improper advance” as they were trying to rob him. After a jury acquitted the killers, the courtroom broke into applause, and a local newspaper ran a photo of the defendants hugging their mothers. The writer for ONE reframed the acquittals as a further injustice: “How many more times must the innocent die and the guilty go free before the unsubstantiated claim of an ‘indecent proposal’ ceases to be an alibi for robbery and murder?” Through such reinterpretations, a new understanding of the crimes became part of the project of gay liberation. In 1984, an executive vice-president of the National Organization of Women pointed out how absurd it was that anti-gay rage had long been considered natural. “I am a lesbian and I have been approached by men in straight bars,” she said. “In discouraging their advances, I have never found it necessary to try to kill them.”

In 1992, the journal Law & Sexuality published a definitive takedown of the homosexual-panic defense, by the historian Gary David Comstock. The psychological literature on the condition was scanty, Comstock noted, and the condition itself seemed largely irrelevant to the murder cases that it had been applied to. Summarizing the work of psychologists who had followed in Kempf’s footsteps, Comstock wrote that the symptoms typical of a man struggling with homosexual desires were “introspective brooding, self-punishment, withdrawal, and helplessness,” which hardly seemed like traits that would give rise to an uncontrollable impulse to kill. And it was far from clear what pertinence they had to the case of a hoodlum who had gone looking for a homosexual to shake down and then lashed out. “Legal defenses have misappropriated the disorder,” Comstock concluded.

The violence described by Polchin has not vanished, though these days reports of it may be less visible, channelled by the Internet to readers who follow local news or have an interest in L.G.B.T.Q. matters. In my own home town, Brooklyn, in 2000, there were knife attacks in a part of Prospect Park with a reputation for gay cruising, followed by a murder in the same location in 2006. That same year, a twenty-nine-year-old gay black designer was lured by means of online messages to a beach known for assignations, in Sheepshead Bay, a neighborhood in South Brooklyn, where a small group of teen-agers and twenty-year-olds chased him into the path of an S.U.V. on a nearby highway. The details of the Sheepshead Bay case, however, suggest how much has changed through shifts in technology and mores. Thanks to evidence of flirtation left behind online, the police were able to track down the designer’s attackers quickly. And, in court, when one of the defendants tried to win sympathy, he testified not that the designer had come on to him but that he himself had for some time been secretly having sex with men he met online. In June, this change in mores was enshrined as law when New York’s state legislature became the seventh in the country to ban the homosexual-panic defense from courtrooms, a move inspired in part by the 2013 case of Islan Nettles, a Harlem woman whose killer told police that he had been infuriated by the discovery that she was transgender.

In the demise of the homosexual-panic defense, the watershed seems to have occurred in the decade following the 1969 Stonewall riots, when the narrative of anti-gay crime moved decisively out of a gothic and psychological register and into a political one. In 1973 and 1974, arsonists set fire to gay churches and synagogues in California and Tennessee. In 1977, during a national campaign against gay rights by the former beauty queen Anita Bryant, a young man shouted, “Here’s one for Anita,” as he and three companions stabbed to death a gay San Franciscan named Robert Hillsborough. The following year, San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official, the city supervisor Harvey Milk, was assassinated by a colleague enraged by Milk’s political achievement. What the critique of the homosexual-panic defense, from ONE magazine to Polchin, suggests is that there can be a dark collaboration between an individual’s rage, whatever its psychological origins, and the license that a society extends, tacitly or openly, to its expression, and that politics may be the only way to bring this collaboration into the light.

Caleb Crain is the author of the novel “Necessary Errors”



June 20, 2019

"Gay Panic" Defense Banned In a NY Case of Murder in NYC




Islan Nettles, a transgender woman who died after being punched in the face on a New York City street.
Islan Nettles, a transgender woman who died after being punched in the face on a New York City street. 

    




Since as early as the 1960s, defense lawyers have introduced the idea that people accused of murdering lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people had acted in a state of temporary insanity caused and justified by their victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The legal strategy, known as the “gay panic” or “transgender panic” defenses, was not always effective, and as attitudes toward L.G.B.T. people shifted, it was used less often. But it has still been deployed in recent years by lawyers hoping to win a jury’s sympathy, lessen a defendant’s charges or shorten a sentence.

On Wednesday, New York became the seventh State Legislature to approve a ban on such defenses.

The measure’s passage came amid a growing national push to bar the defenses, which gay and transgender rights activists say codify discriminatory attitudes into the legal system. Lawmakers in three other states approved similar bans this year.

Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell and State Senator Brad Hoylman, both gay Democrats from Manhattan, had introduced bills last weekend that would stop people charged with murder from mounting gay panic or transgender panic defenses. 

The legislation, which was approved during Pride Month and as New York prepared to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, was the culmination of an effort that started when Mr. Hoylman introduced a similar bill in 2014.

“I’m glad that New York is sending a message to prosecutors, to defense attorneys, juries and judges that a victim’s L.G.B.T.Q. identity can’t be weaponized,” Mr. Hoylman said in an interview.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has said he would sign the bill, called the measure “an important win for L.G.B.T.Q. people everywhere.”

Several New York-based criminal defense organizations that opposed the legislation signed a statement last week that said the ban would interfere with an accused person’s constitutional right to defend themselves.

“We are absolutely opposed to the limitations of defenses,” said Alice Fontier, the director of the criminal defense practice of the Bronx Defenders, which signed the statement. “It’s ultimately about due process and a fair trial to anyone that comes before the court.” 

Mr. O’Donnell, a former criminal defense lawyer, said he understood those concerns, but believed that New York needed to pass the law to further protect L.G.B.T. victims.

“In the end, our state needs to stand up and say being gay, being trans, is not a defense for killing someone,” he said.

The panic defenses stemmed from psychologists’ assertions that same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria were mental illnesses, according to a 2016 study by the Williams Institute at the U.C.L.A. School of Law,.

Those notions were discredited by the medical community in the 1970s, but not before defendants began to argue that upon learning a victim was gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, they suffered temporary insanity that spurred their violent actions.

The defenses effectively shifted blame onto the victim, re-victimizing them, according to Richard Saenz, a lawyer at Lambda Legal, a national L.G.B.T. civil rights organization.

“It assumes that this person was hiding or trying to be deceptive in some way,” Mr. Saenz said. “And when their sexual orientation or gender identity was discovered, the response was reasonable, even to the point of death.”

The defense strategy received widespread attention after Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, was killed in Wyoming in 1998. Lawyers for one of the accused men tried to argue that their client had beaten Mr. Shepard to death after Mr. Shepard made unwanted sexual advances on him.
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A judge rejected the argument, but the conversation spilled from a Wyoming district court to the national spotlight.

In New York, one of the most high-profile cases involving the defense came in 2013, after a transgender woman, Islan Nettles was beaten to death on a street in Harlem. Her attacker told the police he had flown into “a fury” after finding out that Ms. Nettles, with whom he had been flirting, was transgender.

The attacker, James Dixon, ultimately pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received 12 years in prison, a sentence that Ms. Nettles’s family and activists said would have been harsher had he not been able to cite “transgender panic” in his confession.

The American Bar Association formally called on governments to end the use of panic defenses in 2013. California was the first state to ban the defenses, in 2014. Illinois followed in 2017, and Rhode Island the year after.

Efforts seemed to have picked up this year. Nevada banned the defenses in May, and Hawaii and Connecticut have sent similar bills to their governors, neither of whom have signed them. (A spokeswoman for Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut said he planned to do so. A spokeswoman for Gov. David Ige of Hawaii said he was still reviewing the legislation.)

In Congress, Senator Edward J. Markey and Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, both Massachusetts Democrats, introduced bills last year and this year that proposed to ban the defenses in federal courts. 

In New York, Mr. Cuomo’s efforts came as part of a push to advance gay and transgender rights. In January, at the start of the legislative session, New York banned “conversion therapy” for minors, in which mental health professionals work to change a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
New York Passes a Ban on ‘Conversion Therapy’ After Years-Long EffortsJan. 21, 2019
The same month, the Legislature also passed a bill protecting transgender and gender nonconforming people under New York’s discrimination and hate crimes laws.

Mr. Cuomo had originally proposed ending the panic defense as part of his executive budget. In the last month, he made the issue a priority, holding a rally last week with the Bravo TV personality Andy Cohen.

“With the enactment of this measure, we are sending a noxious legal defense strategy to the dustbin of history where it belongs,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement on Wednesday.

Opponents of New York’s panic defense bill were quick to applaud lawmakers’ strides toward securing L.G.B.T. rights, and said they found the defenses problematic.

“I don’t think that the homophobia or transphobia is acceptable,” said Lori Cohen, the president of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which signed the statement opposing the legislation.

But Ms. Cohen, who identified as a lesbian, said she was skeptical that a measure would effectively address violence against gay and transgender people. 

Instead, she said, lawmakers should address the underlying social issues that led judges or juries to accept these defenses.

Mr. Hoylman rejected that argument.

“I don’t think we can leave it to judges and juries given the record of homophobia that we’ve seen in courtrooms,” he said. “We’re acting prudently to codify values of tolerance and acceptance of L.G.B.T.Q. people.”

A version of this article appears in print on June 20, 2019, on Page A28 of the New York edition with the headline: Rejecting a Murder Defense.



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