Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Larry King Remembered: Too Young To Die

Lawrence “Larry” Fobes King was murdered by two gunshots to the back of the head on February 12, 2008, and died two days later.  He was only 15 years old.  His assailant, Brandon McInerney, was only 14.  Larry died because he was gender non-conforming–a gay youth who would not, could not conceal who he was from his classmates at E.O. Green Middle School, Oxnard, California.  McInerney remains in custody in Ventura County pending his trial as an adult for allegedly slaughtering King with his grandfather’s pistol during morning computer class.  McInerney has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and hate crime charges.  His trial is slated to begin in May 2010.  Today, two years since the fatal shooting, we remember Larry, and mourn for Brandon, too.  Two young lives have been lost to unreasoning homophobia.  The message of Larry’s death is as clear on the second anniversary of his murder as it was when it occurred: violence and hatred against gender non-conforming youth–gay, lesbian, bi, and transgender–has got to stop.  This weekend, vigils and memorial services are being held in Larry’s memory  by Gay & Straight Alliances throughout the nation–in California, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, and Virginia, according to a GLSEN-endorsed site dedicated to him, www.rememberinglawrence.org. The Ventura County Star commemorated the anniversary with an article highlighting GSA efforts in Southern California, dedicated to bringing the terror of homophobic teen-on-teen violence to an end.  J.T. Mendoza, a high school senior from Simi Valley and a member in the local Gay and Straight Alliance there, spoke for all who seek to honor Larry: “There needs to be more awareness that all students, regardless of their sexual orientation, need to be safe in schools.  It’s not just a LGBT issue, but an everyone issue.”

February 12, 2010 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bullying in schools, California, gay teens, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Remembrances, School and church shootings, Social Justice Advocacy, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Larry King Remembered: Too Young To Die

Gay Brazilian Granted Asylum By Homeland Security: Hope Now For Uganda?

L to R - Rena Stern, Augusto Pereira de Souza, and Brian Ward

New York City – A gay Brazilian man has been granted asylum in the United States on the grounds that deportation to Brazil would threaten his life.  Columbia University’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic won asylum for Augusto Pereira de Souza, 27, from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in a move that may bring hope to thousands of Ugandan LGBT persons in the event that the odious “Kill the Gays Bill” becomes law in Uganda.  The news highlights the danger LGBT people face in Brazil.  According to Grupo Gay da Bahia (GGB), the largest LGBT rights organization in Brazil, between 1980 and 2009, there were 2,998 murders of LGBT people in Brazil.  In 2008, 190 such murders were reported, though the GGB notes that since many crimes against LGBT people go unreported in Brazil, the actual number of people who lost their lives because of their sexual orientation is likely much greater.  Calling his decision to petition for asylum in the United States “a matter of life or death,” Augusto Pereira de Souza told reporters, “In Brazil, I lived in constant fear for my life. I tried to hide that I was gay, but still faced repeated beatings, attacks, and threats on my life because I was gay. At times I was attacked by skinheads and brutally beaten by cops. After the cops attack you and threaten your life for being gay, you learn quickly that there is no one that will protect you.”  He will now live openly as a gay man in Newark, New Jersey, where he had lived for some time hiding his sexual orientation.  Pereira de Souza’s writ of freedom is thanks to the tireless legal work of three students from Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic, Rena Stern, Brian Ward, and Mark Musico.  The trio of law students worked on the case since last September under the direction of clinic director, Dr. Suzanne Goldberg.  In a statement reported by The Advocate, Ward said, “In Brazil, police routinely fail to investigate violence committed against GLBT individuals. In this environment, skinheads and other groups are free to persecute, torture, and even kill GLBT individuals with impunity.”  Stern, who also assisted with Pereira de Souza’s case, said attacks and murder based on sexual orientation in Brazil appear to be on the rise there. 
“Mr Pereira de Souza’s story is unfortunately not unusual for a gay man in Brazil.”  Such a grant of asylum is rare, largely because of the time and expense necessary to file the application and see it through the process of vetting to make sure that actual danger is truly probable for the asylum-seeker.  Individuals must first make it into the United States even to apply, a significant hurdle for foreign LGBT people from countries in the developing world, such as Brazil and Uganda.  For Ugandan LGBT people living in fear for their lives in a country where Parliament is debating the enactment of a law making homosexuality punishable by the death penalty, the decision to grant the Brazilian asylum is potentially life-saving news.  President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have spoken out against the “Kill the Gays Bill” as recently as their appearance at the right-wing sponsored National Prayer Breakfast last Thursday in the nation’s capitol.  Should the Ugandan Parliament enact the bill into law, gay Ugandans could face a death sentence, their families and friends could be imprisoned for as much as seven years, and even landlords who rent to homosexuals could face jail time.  Now, with the Pereira de Souza decision, the door to freedom and life in the United States is opened just a crack for LGBT Ugandans, but it is much more than they had even a week ago.

February 12, 2010 Posted by | "Kill the Gays Bill", anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Brazil, death threats, gay men, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, New York, Political asylum for LGBT People, Politics, Social Justice Advocacy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Uganda | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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