Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gays and Allies Defy Anti-Gay Activists at WCC in Korea

Pro-gay Christians rally in central Seoul to demand full equality under God for all Koreans.  Rev. Daniel Payne, center in clergy collar, Jun-Young Lee translating. (Chungwook Park photo).

Pro-gay Christians rally in central Seoul to demand full equality under God for all Koreans. Rev. Daniel Payne, center in clergy collar, Jun-Young Lee translating. (Chungwook Park photo).

Busan and Seoul, South Korea – Gay Christians and their Affirming Allies from the World Council of Churches (WCC) took to the streets in Busan and Seoul to show their support for LGBTQ people this week, in open defiance of the large, well-funded conservative opponents of equality for the sexual minority.  Declaring that “Gays are God’s Creation, Too!” dozens of gay affirming clergy and lay people from countries around the world joined local progressive Christians to push back against the ostracism the conservative Protestant establishment wants to maintain against any gay or lesbian who dares to come out openly in the Republic of Korea.  The Korea Times covered the event, citing the Rev. Daniel Payne and Jun-Young Lee of Open Doors Community Church, a Seoul-based progressive Christian Church that welcomes gays and straights alike.  In a statment to the press, the Affirming protesters decried harm and abuse condoned by the religious establishment in South Korea, declaring such oppression to be against the teachings of Jesus Christ: “We underscore once again that the violent bigotry against sexual minorities in the name of Christianity fully contradicts the Christian mandate to love thy neighbor. We declare as follows as we unite and pray together so that this social abuse in Korean society will be ended.”  The gay-friendly protests took place in Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul.

A “Confucianized-Christian” establishment in South Korea continues to make this East Asian nation reject homosexuality on biblical and moral grounds, exalting patriarchal versions of faith and family to seal the deal.  But progressive Christians, gay and straight, are emerging with their religious and secular allies to demand full equality and dignity for Korea’s sexual minority.  Citing the Bible from an intelligent, informed interpretation that refutes the literalism customary in most Protestant churches in South Korea, these progressive Christians are making a growing case for the protection and inclusion of LGBTQ people throughout the Land of Morning Calm.

Establishment Protestant leaders who are embarrassed by the open hostility towards the World Council of Churches meeting in Busan this week are having to rethink their opposition to gay equality, rightly concerned about being lumped into a troubled fundamentalist power structure that bears little or no resemblance to the Christian teachings on the creation of all people in God’s image and likeness, and the Good News of God’s Love.  Reports circulated in Seoul that religious zealots were transporting human excrement to Busan to spray on WCC delegates, much as they had at the same-sex wedding of gay filmmaker Kim Jho Gwang-soo in September.

November 4, 2013 Posted by | GLBTQ, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Kim Jho Kwang-soo, LGBTQ, Open Doors Community Church Korea, Protests and Demonstrations, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, South Korea, World Council of Churches (WCC) | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gays and Allies Defy Anti-Gay Activists at WCC in Korea

Breaking News: Anti-Gay Hate Crimes Book Published in South Korea

Who Trampled the Rainbow Flag book cover, Alma Books, 2013.

Who Trampled the Rainbow Flag book cover, Alma Books, 2013.

Seoul, South Korea – An American scholar’s award winning book on anti-gay hate crimes will hit the shelves throughout South Korea on Friday, October 18, the first such book of its kind in the Korean language.  Alma Books is publishing Who Trampled The Rainbow Flag?: Remembering the Death of Victims of Hate Crime Against the Sexual Minority, the Korean translation of Dr. Stephen Sprinkle’s groundbreaking anthology of hate crimes murder victim stories, Unfinished Lives: Remembering LGBTQ Hate Crimes Murder Victims (Resource Publications, 2011).

Who Trampled the Rainbow Flag? will boost the creation of a whole new discourse on crimes against the sexual minority, heretofore a taboo subject in the Republic of Korea.  At the urging of Brite Divinity School’s Dr. Namsoon Kang, Professor of World Christianity and Religions, Munhakdongne accepted the challenge to publish a book many other Korean publishers thought was interesting enough, but “too risky.”  A translator was secured in Berkeley, California to take on the project, after negotiations between the American and Korean publishers.

Homosexuality is still considered to be a western “disease” by the majority of South Koreans, whose values are dually shaped by Confucian ideals of patriarchy and family, and by Christian heterosexism which exhibits strongly conservative aspects of the missionary efforts that established the churches on the Korean Peninsula over a hundred years ago. In the main, homosexuality is not spoken of in Korea, though a significant shift towards the beginnings of tolerance has taken place there in recent years.  According to the June 2013 Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Survey on homosexuality showed that South Korea, while still disapproving of sexual minorities, has shown the largest shift of public opinion towards tolerance of any nation in the world.  Korean attitudes moved from barely 18% who believed in 2007 that homosexuality should be accepted, to 39% in 2013–a shift of 21 per cent in six years.  

L to R: Dr. Namsoon Kang, Kim Jho Kwang-soo, Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, Kim Seung-hwan.

L to R: Dr. Namsoon Kang, Kim Jho Kwang-soo, Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, Kim Seung-hwan.

Sprinkle’s book, which won the 2012 Silver Medal for Gay/Lesbian Non-Fiction at the IPPY Awards in New York City, was chosen for Korean publication because of the way it puts a human face on the oppression of LGBTQ people.  The endorsement by famed gay Korean film director, writer, and producer, Kim Jho Kwang-soo (Peter Kim), gave the book a major boost.  Kim is one of the few openly gay celebrities in South Korea, and, along with his spouse, Kim Seung-hwan (David Kim), are the prime movers in the increasingly popular Seoul LGBT Film Festival.  Author Stephen Sprinkle is currently in Korea networking, speaking in churches and book gatherings in support of the launch of Who Trampled the Rainbow Flag? on Thursday, October 17 at Libro Bookstore at Hong Ik University in Seoul, where Kim Jho Kwang-soo will appear for a joint book signing.

During his tour of South Korea with Dr. Namsoon Kang, Sprinkle has been interviewed about his book by NewsNJoy, the major Christian news outlet on the Peninsula, has spoken at Open Doors Community Church, Chungdong First Methodist Church (the first Protestant church founded in Korea), and at Sumdol Presbyterian Church in Seoul.  The book has received the support of progressive church leaders such as Rev. Daniel Payne of Open Doors Community, Dr. Se-Hyoung Lee of Chungdong First Methodist, renowned Minjung Theologian Rev. Jin Ho Kim, and one of the few female pastors in Korea, sexual minorities advocate Rev. Borah Lim of Sumdol Church.

The odds facing LGBTQ people in South Korea are daunting, but books like Dr. Sprinkle’s human take on how hatred and religiously motivated bigotry destroy lives and motivate self-loathing, murder, and suicide in so many members of the sexual minority bear the potential to start a new dialogue on tolerance there.  As Dr. Sprinkle said, “We are not naîve about the future for gays and lesbians, bisexual and transgender Koreans.  But the signs of a thaw in opinions is unmistakable everywhere I go in Korea.  Perhaps Who Trampled the Rainbow Flag? can speed the liberation of queer folk here–as a matter of fact,” Sprinkle went on to say, “that very process has already begun.”

October 16, 2013 Posted by | Alma Books Korea, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Book Tour, Chungdong First Methodist Church Korea, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Kim Jho Kwang-soo, LGBTQ, Munhakdongne Publishing Group, Open Doors Community Church Korea, Social Justice Advocacy, South Korea, Sumdol Presbyterian Church Korea, Unfinished Lives Book, Unfinished Lives Book Signings, Who Trampled the Rainbow Flag? - Book | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Breaking News: Anti-Gay Hate Crimes Book Published in South Korea

Gay Hate Crimes Blog Breaks the Half-Million Visitor Barrier: Unfinished Lives Blog Makes History

Rainbow spanglesDallas, Texas- Unfinishedlivesblog.com, a cyber site of public discourse on anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and their victims, broke through the 500,000 visits barrier on October 3.  Begun by a theologian and amateur blogger, the website has developed a world-wide readership and a strong following in the United States.  Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle, the Founder and Director of the Unfinished Lives Project, hailed the moment as a demonstration of what a few dedicated people can do to shift the public conversation on LGBTQ hate crimes.  “It is humbling to realize how many people read and comment on a project that began as a labor of love,” Dr. Sprinkle said.  “We on the Unfinished Lives Project Team are deeply gratified by the loyalty of our readership.”

Originally intended to support the publication of Dr. Sprinkle’s award-winning book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications, 2011), Unfinishedlivesblog.com grew far beyond its initial purpose.  Covering the stories of hate crime murder victims, acts of violence against the queer community, and items of political, theological and cultural interest affecting the LGBTQ community, the blog has logged over 580 stories and posts since its inception in June 2008. Ryan Valentine, Deputy Director of the Texas Freedom Network and an early endorser of the blog, voiced his continuing appreciation of the ongoing work of the website and the Unfinished Lives Project:

“I am writing to commend – in the highest possible terms – Dr. Stephen Sprinkle and his Unfinished Lives project. My support springs from the conviction that his work calling attention to the “slow-rolling holocaust” of LGBT hate crimes in this country has a particular urgency in the struggle for civil rights in contemporary America. As society and the media turn a blind eye, someone must tell these stories.”  

In response to a post criticizing anti-gay hazing in colleges and universities, an anonymous commentator thanked the Unfinished Lives Project for aiding a social advocacy group in their justice work:  “We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your site provided us with valuable information to work on. You’ve performed a formidable activity and our entire group will probably be grateful to you.”  

Ryan Keith Skipper

Ryan Keith Skipper

Perhaps most moving have been the messages of support for the work of this site from the parents and loved ones of hate crimes victims.  In response to a memorial post for Ryan Keith Skipper (1981 – 2007), a gay man brutally murdered in Polk County, Florida, his stepfather, Lynn Mulder, posted this note: “Ryan had overcome many obstacles in his life and reconciled many conflicts that our society placed in his path. He was comfortable with who he was and as his parents we were proud of that accomplishment. Ryan has not been forgotten and we still love him. Thank you all for remembering and caring, especially on his birthday.”  Lynn and Pat Mulder have become two of the most passionate and effective advocates for LGBTQ youth in America.

“I know that the work of Unfinished Lives Blog is far from over,” Sprinkle said.  “The numbers of LGBTQ hate crimes murders have reached historic highs every year since 2009.  An epidemic of deadly violence is claiming the lives of transgender youth, especially m to f trans youth of color, throughout the United States.  Bullying in schools has led to untold numbers of desperate acts on the part of LGBTQ school-aged youth, as well.  And the recent alarming uptick in anti-gay acts of violence in New York City may be pointing to an ominous trend that will spread throughout the nation.”  After a pause to collect himself, Sprinkle said, “We cannot suspend, even for a moment, our efforts for full justice and equality for queer folk everywhere.  Lives depend on it.”  

So, for Sprinkle and the volunteer Unfinished Lives Project Team, a half-million visitors to this labor-of-love site is a hallmark of a work for Justice-sake that cannot rest–but along the way, the Team says a hearty “Thank You!” to every reader of this blogsite, now and in the days and years to come!

October 3, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, LGBTQ Community, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia, Unfinished Lives Book, Unfinished Lives Project, Unfinishedlivesblog.com | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Man Charged with Hate Crime in Brutal Colorado Gay Beating

Jared Olson, victim of anti-gay hate crime, before and after the Labor Day Weekend assault.

Jared Olson, victim of anti-gay hate crime, before and after the Labor Day Weekend assault.

Denver, Colorado – After several weeks, a 20-year-old suspect in the savage beating of an openly gay man outside a hookah lounge has been formally charged with an anti-gay hate crime.  Tilo Sandoval, who turned himself in to police for attacking 23-year-old Jared Olson, was charged Thursday with second-degree assault, third-degree assault and bias-motivated crime, according to 9News.com.

The assault took place around 2 a.m. on September 2 outside Denver’s popular Sam’s Hookah Lounge at the corner of Alameda Avenue and Zuni Street.  Olson told police that he and his friends left the lounge to get in their car when two men, one of them Sandoval, approached them, cursing them and shouting anti-gay slurs.  Olson says that Sandoval yanked open the car door, yelling epithets, and hit him so hard that it dislodged some of his teeth.  KDVR.com reports Olsen’s account of what happened:  “They were just cussing at us and slurring, then one guy walked to my door and opened it and hit me in the face,” Olsen said. “We drove off right after that.”  Besides losing and chipping his teeth, Olson’s face sustained severe injuries which, though not life-threatening, will likely require plastic and reconstructive surgery. The cost of the surgery to set his face right again may cost as much as $50,000–a health care crisis for Olson who does not have insurance to cover the expenses. Commenting on the attack on her son, Melody Olson told KDVR, “It’s so disheartening and disgusting that anyone would do that to anybody. Not just my child, but anybody’s. And it’s just because they don’t approve of (their sexual orientation).”  

The severity of his wounds shocked Olson, he told 7News.  “I didn’t think that I looked that bad, until my mother had taken the picture and shown me. I didn’t think it would ever happen to me. I thought people were more sensible than that in this day in age,” he said. “I just remember looking over, and looking up at the guy and getting hit square in the face right here. And you can clearly tell my nose is like over here,” said Olson.

Tilo Sandoval, charged with bias motivated hate crime against Olson.

Tilo Sandoval, charged with bias motivated hate crime against Olson.

Scott Levin, Mountain States Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed his dismay and outrage over the attack against Olson.  In a prepared statement, Levin said:  “The Anti-Defamation League is disheartened to learn of this tragic instance where a victim was allegedly targeted because of his sexual orientation. We applaud law enforcement officials for taking quick and decisive action to investigate whether this was a bias-motivated attack, and if the evidence supports it, we urge them to prosecute this crime to the full extent permitted under Colorado’s hate crimes law.”

Levin went on to say, “Hate crimes have an impact far beyond the individual victim of the crime. When a victim is chosen because of his or her sexual orientation, other members of that group feel unsafe and unwelcome. Hate crimes resonate throughout the victim’s community and threaten the safety and well-being of every member of that group. ADL calls upon the Denver community to speak out loudly against hate crimes and declare Denver no place for hate.”

Sandoval has been released on $30,000 bond. While the hate crimes charges are in place now, it will be up the Denver District Attorney to determine how to prosecute the case, and whether this particular situation meets the criteria of the Colorado Bias Crimes Law.

September 26, 2013 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Colorado, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latinos, LGBTQ, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Florida Woman Brutally Raped for Being “Dyke” and “Lesbian”

Lesbian rapeOrlando, Florida – A rape victim says she was violated by three men under a downtown Orlando overpass on Sunday.  The woman who remains unidentified for her own protection, told police that her assailants attacked her as she paused to do a good deed after leaving a popular LGBT club.  As they pressed the attack, and raped her, the victim said the men yelled anti-lesbian slurs at her: “dyke” and “lesbian.”  One of the rapists reportedly snarled, “I’ll show you what a REAL man feels like!”

According to News 13, police are investigating the attack as a bias-motivated hate crime.  The woman, who had left Club Revolution, stopped under the overpass to give a homeless man some change and a cold soda, when the three rapists charged up in their vehicle, caught her, ripped off her clothes, and assaulted her as they heckled her for being a lesbian.  Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices”, in all the reports of the assault they gathered, says nothing to confirm or deny that the victim is indeed a lesbian.  It does not matter.  The woman’s sexual orientation was assumed to be lesbian by the homophobes who raped her.  The crime is heinous in whatever case, and the Orlando Police Department is correct to investigate it as a hate crime.

WESH/NBC News Orlando reminds us that seven people were reported by the FBI as attacked for their sexual orientation in Central Florida last year alone, and the number of unreported anti-LGBT hate crimes would undoubtedly be higher.  This summer has been particularly deadly.  Randy Stephens of the Center, a local LGBT advocacy organization, said to WESH, “There are still people out there that hate us. Even with all the victories wave had, we may have let our guard down.”

There have been no arrests in the case as of yet.

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, FBI, Florida, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Mistaken as LGBT, Orlando Police Department, rape, Sexual assault, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, The Center (Orlando), Unsolved LGBT Crimes, women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gay Couple Attacked in Heart of Gay-Friendly New York Neighborhood

NYPD sketches of suspects in Wednesday's attack on a gay couple in Chelsea.

NYPD sketches of suspects in Wednesday’s attack on a gay couple in Chelsea.

BREAKING NEWS: New York City, New York – Police have released sketches of two principle attackers who savagely assaulted a gay couple as they walked holding hands in Chelsea, one of the gay-friendliest sections of the Big Apple.  The suspects, according to CBS Local, are described by the NYPD as a black man wearing a white tee shirt, and a younger Hispanic male, probably in the 16 to 20 year old range, sporting tattoos on his arms.  The attack is being investigated as a bias-motivated hate crime by New York Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force as part of the wave of murder and assault taking place against LGBTQ people in New York this spring and summer.

Wednesday, August 14, shortly after midnight, Peter Notman, 53, and Michael Felenchak, 27, left the Chelsea Bowtie Cinemas on 23rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues holding hands.  As they walked along after turning down 24th Street, a two men shouting anti-gay slurs attacked them.  Four other men joined in the attack on the couple, according to Huffington Post coverage of the incident.  Notman said to CBS TV reporters, “It was six of them against the two of us. Typical of the cowards they are.”

One of the assailants used brass knuckles to strike the pair, and both Notman and Felenchak required hospitalization at Beth Israel Hospital, spending the entire night in the emergency room.  Notman said, “I was hit with brass knuckles down the side of my face, and I had contusions; had to have an MRI, and Michael received several stitches in his mouth where they punched us.”  Felechak required seven stitches to close his wounds.

By Thursday morning, the couple were passing out fliers and appearing before the media with local politicians to protest this latest hate crime attack against LGBTQ people.  “We have our complete faith in the NYPD — they are great guys; they’re amazing. They’re going to find the guys,” Felenchak said.

Micheal Felenchak (l) and Peter Notman (r), attacked while holding hands.

Micheal Felenchak (l) and Peter Notman (r), attacked while holding hands.

Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio, both candidates in the hotly contested New York Mayor’s race, spoke out against the rise in violence against LGBTQ people in the very city that gave birth to the modern human rights movement in Greenwich Village, not far from the site of this latest outrage against LGBTQ dignity.  “I am appalled by reports that two men were senselessly beaten in Chelsea simply because they were perceived to be gay,” Council Speaker Quinn said. “The cowardly individuals who committed this crime do not represent New Yorkers and our community will not be cowed by such violence. New York City’s greatest strength is our diversity, and we will not stand for attacks against anyone, for any reason.”  NYC Public Advocate de Blasio issued his statement to Huffington Post:  “We won’t let hate work its way into our communities. LGBTQ New Yorkers have the right to walk any street in this city free from violence or intimidation. We have to meet any bias attack against the LGBTQ community with aggressive action—both in our condemnation, and in our police response. I applaud the NYPD for doing exactly that. The community needs to know the City will meet its fundamental obligation to protect its people.”

Meanwhile, residents of Chelsea were still recovering from the news that their once highly touted gay-friendly neighborhood was no longer a safe place for gay men and lesbians to live open lives without fear.  Upper West Side resident, Corbin Reid told CBS New York, “A lot of homosexuals live here, and they feel safe here and I think they live here because they feel a sense of community. So to get attacked here is definitely disheartening, and it’s like getting attacked in your own home.” Chelseaite John Flippen said, “I suddenly have to be very aware of what I’m doing and restraining myself from anything that might draw attention and that’s no way to live. I didn’t come to Chelsea to live that way.”  Toby Berkowitz, another Chelsea resident, chimed in, “Chelsea of all places? Really? You’re here because it’s a very homogenized mix of people. We love that. But if you don’t feel safe in front of your local movie theater, where would you?”  

There have been no arrests as of press time today.  The search for the gay bashers continues in America’s largest city, where anti-LGBTQ attacks are up 70 per cent over last year.

Wilson Cruz, national spokesperson for GLAAD, summed up the outrage of the LGBTQ activist community over this latest attack, saying, “The rising number of anti-LGBT attacks around the country is staggering and needs to be addressed immediately. Nobody should have to fear simply walking down a street in their own neighborhood because of who they are.”  

August 16, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Bill de Blasio, Chelsea, Christine Quinn, gay bashing, gay men, GLAAD, GLBTQ, Greenwich Village, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, New York, New York City, New York Police Department (NYPD), Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Couple Attacked in Heart of Gay-Friendly New York Neighborhood

Anti-Gay Activist Pastor Scott Lively Ordered to Stand Trial for Crimes Against Humanity

Scott Lively, now to be defendant in international crimes against humanity lawsuit case.

Scott Lively, American anti-gay extremist, now to be defendant in international crimes against humanity lawsuit case.

Springfield, Massachusetts – In a historic judicial ruling, a federal judge denied a motion filed on behalf of U.S. hate pastor Scott Lively asking the court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing Lively of international crimes against humanity. This unprecedented decision by Judge Michael A. Ponsor, Senior Judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, effectively orders Lively to face charges that establish anti-gay persecution as a crime against humanity, according to Out.com.  In his ruling issued on Wednesday, August 14, U.S. District Judge Ponsor stated, “Widespread, systematic persecution of LGBTI people constitutes a crime against humanity that unquestionably violates international norms.”  Judge Ponsor, a Rhodes scholar and widely respected federal justice, went on to say,  The history and current existence of discrimination against LGBTI people is precisely what qualifies them as a distinct targeted group eligible for protection under international law. The fact that a group continues to be vulnerable to widespread, systematic persecution in some parts of the world simply cannot shield one who commits a crime against humanity from liability.”

 Lively, founder of Abiding Truth Ministries, Inc., and author of the virulently anti-gay book, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party (1995), has made a living by reviling LGBTQ people in the USA and around the world.   Notoriously, Lively is a central propagandist inciting homophobic lawmakers in the central African nation of Uganda to enact draconian laws such as the “Kill the Gays Bill” pending before parliament, making homosexuality illegal and in some cases punishable by death.  But Lively has not limited his vilification of LGBTQ people to Africa by any means, according to the Intelligence Files of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a watchdog organization monitoring all manner of hate crimes emanating from the U.S.  The SPLC details Lively’s hate-mongering throughout the USA through front organizations such as the Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA), the California branch of the American Family Association (AFA), Lively’s own spawn, Abiding Truth Ministries of Massachusetts, and, most recently, Watchmen on the Walls (WOTW), an extremist anti-gay organization with an international outreach that Lively co-launched in Riga, Latvia in 2007.  Lively’s religion-based bigotry and Holocaust revisionism, particularly his spurious claims that homosexuals dominated the German Nazi Party and instigated the immolation of millions of European Slavs and Jews during World War II, have incited suspicion, hatred, and violent persecution of countless LGBTQ people in Africa, Russia, and around the world.
 
Ugandan protestors outside London embassy [Voice of America photo].

Ugandan protestors outside London embassy [Voice of America photo].

Lively’s anti-gay activism in Uganda has finally caught up with him.  The SPLC reports: “[Lively’s]  work in Uganda led to a lawsuit against him under the Alien Tort Claims Act, filed March 14, 2012, by Sexual Minorities Uganda, an LGBT rights group in that country. The lawsuit alleges that Lively conspired with political and religious leaders in Uganda beginning in 2002 to incite anti-gay hysteria with warnings about the dangers of homosexuals to children and homosexuality to Ugandan culture.”  This lawsuit, Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Lively, filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), is the suit U.S. District Judge Ponsor allowed to proceed against Lively.  The suit alleges that Lively directly consulted and instigated with Ugandan religious and government authorities to deprive LGBTQI Ugandans of their basic human rights solely and deliberately as a result of their identities.  According to the statues of the International Criminal Court, such activities as enslavement, torture, murder and “persecution against an identifiable group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or gender grounds,” constitute “crimes against humanity.” Out.com indicates that the Alien Torte Statute allows foreign nationals to sue for violations of international rights in U.S. courts.  In the language of the SMUG lawsuit, Lively “through actions taken both within the United States and in Uganda has attempted to foment, and to a substantial degree has succeeding in fomenting, an atmosphere of harsh and frightening repression against LGBTI people in Uganda.”
 
U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor issued the historic ruling against Scott Lively on August 14, 2013.

U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor issued the historic ruling against Scott Lively on August 14, 2013.

While the court battle is hardly over, Wednesday’s ruling in U.S. District Court is a clear defeat of Lively’s heretofore unaccountable hate speech and advocacy against sexual and gender variant minorities, and a shot across the bow of any other individuals or organizations that seek to deny the rights of LGBTQI people throughout the world.  It is also a blow to the anti-gay Liberty Counsel, a rightwing legal consortium created by the arch heterosexist/homphobic evangelical ideologue, Rev. Jerry Falwell, which set out to defend Lively from the CCR/SMUG lawsuit.  The lead attorney for CCR, Pam Spees, responded to press requests for comment, saying, “We are gratified that the court recognized the persecution and the gravity of the danger faced by our clients as a result of Scott Lively’s actions. Lively’s single-minded campaign has worked to criminalize their very existence, strip away their fundamental rights and threaten their physical safety.” Frank Mugisha, Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, said to Gay Star News after the ruling was made public Wednesday, “Today’s ruling is a significant victory for human rights everywhere but most especially for LGBTI Ugandans who are seeking accountability from those orchestrating our persecution.”

 
The case has now been referred to U.S. District Magistrate Judge Kenneth P. Neiman to be scheduled for a pretrial conference at a future date.  The full Memorandum and Order issued by U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor is available here.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | "Kill the Gays Bill", Abiding Truth Ministries, Africa, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Crimes against humanity, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Liberty Counsel, Massachusetts, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Russia, Scott Lively, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), Social Justice Advocacy, Southern Poverty Law Center, The Pink Swastika, Uganda, Watchmen on the Walls | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lesbian Couple Beaten By Mob in Chicago; One Suspect Arrested

Terry Glover, 24, charged with anti-lesbian hate crimes and robbery in West Side Chicago neighborhood [Chicago PD photo].

Terry Glover, 24, charged with anti-lesbian hate crimes and robbery in West Side Chicago neighborhood [Chicago PD photo].

Chicago, Illinois – A mob of 10 men assaulted a lesbian couple, yelling anti-lesbian slurs as they pressed their attack on Saturday, July 6.  The Chicago Tribune reports that a single suspect, Terry Glover, 24, has been apprehended, and is being held in a Cook County jail on $1 million bail for two counts of felony hate crime and two counts of felony robbery.  The two women, aged 23 and 25, were robbed and beaten late in the night in the West Side neighborhood of Austin.  Nine other suspects remain at large.

In personal accounts of the harrowing attack, the women, who wish to remain unidentified, say that their assailants yelled that no “bitch dykes” were going to walk through their neighborhood.  The assault, they say, was initiated by Glover who was a former school classmate of one of the women.  The couple allege they were taunted for their sexual orientation, knocked to the ground, and kicked while they were down.  “It was punches, kicks, everything being thrown at us,” one of the victims told the Tribune. “We just held onto each other until somebody said, ‘Here come the police.'”  One of the women had her shirt ripped from her body during the attack, and the cash and cell phones of them both were taken.  The mob ran at the approach of police officers.

By Monday, Glover was in custody, and was hauled before a Cook County judge, according to DNAinfo Chicago.

The younger of the two women told the Tribune, “It really shouldn’t matter who I like or who I love. I should be able to walk the streets wherever I want to go and talk to whoever I want to talk to.”  

Meanwhile, in the wake of the Supreme Court decisions of last month, the violence against LGBTQ people in America continues, apparently unabated. Rick Garcia, policy director of The Civil Rights Agenda, a Chicago-based LGBTQ rights organization, told Tribune reporters, “We see cases like this all the time, all over the city and all over the state.  It shows that animosity toward lesbian and gay people is just below the surface. We think we’ve made such big gains, but right below the surface we see this animosity and violence.”

July 19, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Gang violence, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Illinois, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, mob-violence and lynching, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lesbian Couple Beaten By Mob in Chicago; One Suspect Arrested

Gay Hate Crimes Blog Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle, Unfinishedlivesblog.com founder and director, speaks at Dallas Day of Decision Rally last week [Robbie Miller photo].

Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle, Unfinishedlivesblog.com founder and director, speaks at Dallas Day of Decision Rally last week [Robbie Miller photo].

Dallas, Texas – Unfinishedlivesblog.com, the premier amateur academic blog dealing with anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in the United States, marks its fifth birthday today.  Conceived on the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots in 2008, the blog and its umbrella parent movement, The Unfinished Lives Project, sought to change the national conversation on acts of physical violence against the queer community.  A part-time labor of love, written as time permits between teaching responsibilities, speaking opportunities, and educational events around the nation, this cyber effort continues to widen and deepen the circle of readers worldwide who remember  and advocate for LGBTQ hate crimes victims. With nearly 500,000 visitors to date, Unfinished Lives Blog has reached more minds and hearts than its originator, Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle, could have possibly foreseen half a decade ago.

“Adding the responsibility of writing, monitoring networks of news sources, and updating the blog seemed daunting at first,” Sprinkle admits.  “Nevertheless, communicating with such a wide audience of concerned people on the injustice of murder and assault against LGBTQ people simply because of irrational prejudice and hatred, has become an enormously energizing dimension of my life’s work. And, we at the Unfinished Lives Project have learned how to do this as we went along,” Sprinkle noted.  “Remembering the victims of homophobic and transphobic violence must become second nature to the LGBTQ community if it ever is to become a People among the Peoples of this country, and of the world family of Peoples.  We like to think that we are making some contribution to the maturation of the LGBTQ community by our work.” 

Five years on gives the Unfinished Lives Project a chance to revisit some of its more notable achievements.  Since 2008, the blog has:

  • Posted 564 articles to date on hate crimes and told the stories of hate crimes victims throughout America and the world
  • Contributed to the struggle to enact the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act into federal law in 2009
  • Provided local coverage of the Raid on the Rainbow Lounge and the events stemming from it in the summer of 2009
  • Pressed for the Repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT) in 2010
  • Covered the alarming rise in transgender hate crimes, with a special focus on transgender youth of color
  • Chronicled the alarming stories of LGBTQ youth bullied in schools throughout the nation
  • Gained readership in more than 183 nations, principalities, territories, and protectorates worldwide
  • Built and maintained a searchable website available free of charge for research on anti-LGBTQ hate crimes
  • Supported the publication of Dr. Sprinkle’s award-winning book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Murder Victims (Eugene, Oregon: Resource Publications, 2011)
  • Provided coverage of Unfinished Lives events in 9 states and the District of Columbia

1UnfinishedLivesSprinkle has continued to be Director and main writer for the blog, but says that he is indebted to the ongoing contributions of members of the Unfinished Lives Project Team.  “We could not be the player in the cyber world we are today without the hard work of friends like web masters Todd W. Simmons, Adam D.J. Brett, and the invaluable support of Sandra Jean Brandon,” Sprinkle said.  He also thanks the loyal readership that has lent their voices and advocacy to the struggle to eliminate hate crimes violence from society. “They are helping to change the national conversation on hate crimes,” Sprinkle said. “We are moving beyond dry statistics.  The stories of real human beings give life and passion to the ongoing effort to make our neighborhoods safe for love and life to bloom and flourish.”

The future offers opportunity to Unfinished Lives Blog as it enters its second decade of service.  LGBTQ hate crimes continue unabated in the United States, rising to record high numbers of murders each year since 2010.  Worldwide human rights efforts are spreading at breakneck speed, and the forces of repression and irrational hatred are mounting to squash them.  Unfinished Lives Blog intends to meet the challenges with creativity and passion.  In October 2013, the Unfinished Lives Project will visit the Republic of South Korea where Dr. Sprinkle’s book is being published in the Korean language by Alma, a division of Munhakdongne Publishing Group, to spread the word on hate crimes and hate crimes prevention. As Sprinkle says every time he is offered the chance, “We who believe in justice cannot rest.  We who believe in justice cannot rest until it comes!”

Happy Fifth Anniversary, Unfinished Lives Blog!  Here’s to many more!

June 30, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Brite Divinity School, Bullying in schools, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Independent Book Awards (IPPYs), LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard Act, Rainbow Lounge Raid, Social Justice Advocacy, South Korea, Texas, transphobia, Unfinished Lives Book, Unfinished Lives Project, Unfinishedlivesblog.com | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Hate Crimes Blog Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

Lesbian Council Speaker Offers Free Gay Self-Defense Classes in Response to New York City Hate Crimes

Center for Anti-Violence Education will offer free self-defense classes to LGBTQ adults.

Center for Anti-Violence Education will offer free self-defense classes to LGBTQ adults.

New York City, New York – Lesbian mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn, the outspoken Speaker of the New York City Council, announced that free self-defense classes will be available to the LGBTQ community following an alarming spike in anti-gay hate crimes in the city.  Quinn made the announcement Sunday at the 21st Annual Queens Pride Parade held in Jackson Heights, according to CBS 2.

The New York queer community is returning to a sense of the significance of Pride it has not known for many years because of the recent rise in anti-LGBTQ violence throughout the five boroughs.  Quinn noted the severity of the hate crimes in her remarks following the Queens Parade: “This is the kind of violence and frequency and in severity we haven’t seen in a really long time. It isn’t safe to be gay everywhere in New York City.”  The classes, which will concentrate on diffusing smart aleck harassment more than actual hand-to-hand skills, will commence this weekend, free of charge, compliments of the City of New York.  Quinn became a supporter of the idea of LGBTQ self-defense classes after queer activist Ed Lovendusky, himself a victim of a recent gay bashing in Hell’s Kitchen by a group of homophobic men, called upon the city of provide them.

Openly lesbian NYC Council Speaker, Christine Quinn.

Openly lesbian NYC Council Speaker, Christine Quinn.

The first self-defense class for LGBTQ adults will be held June 8 at the LGBT Center, 208 W. 13th Street in Manhattan, led by the Center for Anti-Violence Education.  On June 12, the second class will be offered at the Hudson Guild Elliott Center. The Center for Anti-Violence Education (CAE), whose headquarters are in Brooklyn, has been actively empowering LGBTQ people in New York City to feel safer and stronger for over 38 years, with an emphasis upon women and youths.  On its website, the CAE says its mission is to develop and implement “comprehensive violence prevention programs for individuals and organizations. Through a combination of education, physical empowerment, and leadership development, CAE provides underserved communities throughout the New York metropolitan area with skills to break cycles of violence.”

The classes are designed to make members of the queer community in New York City feel safer and more secure at a time when many are feeling powerless in the face of rising numbers of reported hate crimes against LGBTQ folk. Speaker Quinn said to NBC 4, “No one should be made to feel unsafe because who they are or who they love. The spate of bias attacks against LGBT New Yorkers in recent weeks is unacceptable and must end now.”

June 4, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Center for Anti-Violence Education (CAE), Christine Quinn, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, New York, New York City, Self-defense classes for LGBTQ people, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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