Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

French Homophobia Skyrockets 78%; Forces Reassessment of LGBTQ “Progress”

Paris victim Wilfred de Bruijn, "the face of homophobia in France," and French anti-gay marriage protestors.

Paris victim Wilfred de Bruijn, “the face of homophobia in France,” and French anti-gay marriage protestors.

Paris, France – The number of documented homophobic attacks is ballooning out of control, says a report published by the French anti-homophobia watchdog, SOS Homophobie.  Since the passage of France’s pro-LGBTQ marriage law, advocates have been shocked by a rise of 78 percent in violent crimes against gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual residents in France during 2013.  The ominous meaning of this spike in violence in a supposedly “enlightened” European culture is forcing advocates, activists, and government officials to rethink narratives of progress on the issue of human equality.

SOS Homophobie, the only organization with reliable statistics on attacks against LGBTQ people in France, says that a violent physical attack against queer people is occurring no less than once every two days, and increase of 54 percent since 2012, but this statistic does not reflect the whole story.  The SOS Helpline received an astounding 3,500 calls in 2013, as opposed to 1,977 in all of 2012, registering an overall increase in anti-gay hate crime of the reported 78 percent.  “In the last twenty years the number of reports of incidents [of homophobia] received by our association have not stopped growing, but in 2013 they exploded,” notes the most recent SOS Homphobie report.  The report also found that the number of anti-gay insults online rose from 656 in 2012 to 1,723 cases in 2013, and the number of incidents that occurred in a school increased by 25 percent.

Justice and Interior ministries have been caught napping by these startling numbers, according to EDGEBOSTON.  An ideology of “inevitable progress” on matters of human rights has caused Gallic cultural leaders to be blindsided by the shift towards anti-gay rhetoric and physical violence since the legal embrace of same-sex marriage.  “There’s no doubt the rise in homophobic acts was linked to the context of the opposition against gay marriage,” Gregory Premon, spokesperson for SOS Homophobie, said to The Local. “Homophobic words and statements became trivialized during this period and helped legitimize insults and homophobic violence.”

A Dutch resident of northern Paris, who was punched and kicked senseless on a street near his home last month, has become the “face” of this new wave of anti-gay violence in France.  Wilfred de Bruijn’s skull was fractured in five places and he lost a tooth in the attack, according to The Independent.  He and his boyfriend Olivier were walking arm-in-arm at the time of the savage assault. “I woke up in an ambulance covered in blood, missing tooth and broken bones around the eye,” Mr. de Bruijn told The Local. “I’m home now. Very sad. Olivier takes care of me. Forbidden to work for at least 10 days.”  

Mr. de Bruijn places the blame for the attack upon the shoulders of anti-same sex marriage protestors, and a group has taken credit for the brutal act. Le Printemps Français (“The French Spring”), whose membership is believed to be largely comprised of hardline Catholics and royalists, now boasts that it sanctioned and carried out the assault against Mr. de Bruijn and his lover.  The shift from anti-LGBTQ marriage to a more general disgust against all queer and gender variant people is becoming more and more obvious.  As Mr. de Bruijn said to The Independent, “The [anti-gay-marriage campaigners] know very well what can happen if you repeat, repeat, repeat that these people are lower human beings. Of course, it will have a result.”

Though the French government has reacted with outrage to the news of the attacks on Messieurs de Bruijn and Olivier, and another recent gay victim, Mr. Raphael le Clerca in Nice, confidence in governmental authority to cause social change in such a charged environment has been seriously shaken in what was once a bastion of culture and forward thinking.  In the U.S. context, as well, the rise in Western European homophobia and heterosexism is not to be taken lightly.

Geography of homophobic Tweets in the USA in 2013 (source: The Atlantic Magazine).

Geography of homophobic Tweets in the USA in 2013 (source: The Atlantic Magazine).

While the Marriage Equality movement is advancing on the judicial front, most recently in the southern and western states of Arkansas and Idaho, it cannot be ignored any longer that incidents of anti-LGBTQ violence, especially against gay men and transgender people, has risen each year since the passage of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in October 2009.  The heat of anti-gay rhetoric from the Religious Right Wing has intensified, and homophobic Christianist preachers like Scott Lively have pressed their hate agenda abroad wherever they have gotten the chance, in Russia and the Slavic countries of the former Soviet Union, and in Central Africa, for example.  While the attention of U.S. advocacy groups is upon Marriage Equality and a looming struggle in the U.S. Supreme Court, anti-LGBTQ attitudes have largely gone unaddressed, thanks to a blind belief in “inevitable social progress,” the irrelevance of domestic religious bigotry, and trust that the younger generations of Americans will finally tip the balance towards tolerance throughout the U.S. population.

We know, however, who is killing LGBTQ people in such alarming numbers in the U.S.A.: the very young who are supposedly their saviors.  The persons who murder and maim queer folk in the United States are predominantly young men from 17 to 35 years of age.  We also know that the under appreciated cultural power of religion to spawn false narratives of government oppression of “religious freedom” lies just below the surface of American society.  And American public and private schools are hotbeds of un addressed bullying and violence against gender variant youth, with outrageous consequences for vulnerable children every week in these United States.

The Marriage Equality movement is not essentially about changing foundational attitudes towards people of difference.  It is about stretching societal and cultural boundaries just enough to let same sex couples inside, where they can enjoy a similacrum of “normal life.”  Marriage is a conservative issue in American life, and always has been.  The serious and radical work of changing hearts and minds to accept challenging differences in society remains to be done, and cannot be ignored if Americans do not want to face the crisis their French allies are currently facing “just across the Pond.”

It is past time Americans take to heart the trenchant remarks of a French government spokesman outraged by the recent rise of homophobia in France: “The hatred and homophobic remarks have no place in our country and are punishable by law. The government strongly condemns these acts. These outbursts are unacceptable. When the most basic civil rights of our citizens are attacked, the authority of the state is at stake.”

May 14, 2014 Posted by | Anti-Gay Hate Groups, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Bullying in schools, France, French homophobia, gay bashing, gay men, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Marriage Equality, Matthew Shepard Act, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Scott Lively, SOS Homophobie, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on French Homophobia Skyrockets 78%; Forces Reassessment of LGBTQ “Progress”

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

Poison Pen Pal Scott Lively Writes Gay People: “I Love You, But You Deserve Hell”

Anti-LGBTQ Activist Scott Lively

Springfield, Massachusetts – In an example of the worst religion-based bigotry of this generation, a longtime promoter of violent rhetoric against the LGBTQ community published an open letter claiming to love gay people with a message of hate.  Scott Lively, founder of Abiding Truth Ministries in Springfield, Massachusetts, has targeted gays and lesbians for criminalization on three continents, and is on the Montgomery, Alabama Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of Hate Groups.  The SPLC in its “Hatewatch: Keeping an Eye on the Radical Right” bulletin reports that Lively posted an RSVP letter to “LGBTs” on his DefendtheFamily.com website on Monday. Lively says he “loves” gays, but they are all bound for hell, and need help.

As the SPLC notes, Lively has worked feverishly for three decades to defame and outlaw gays and lesbians in his speaking and publishing.  His only work of note is The Pink Swastika, a thoroughly discredited screed in which Lively contends that the Nazi movement was a homosexual plot.  By implication, Lively accuses LGBTQ people of instigating World War II and the execution of untold millions. While no reputable historian credits a thing he says, right wing Slavic Christian extremists have promoted the book throughout the old Soviet Bloc and beyond.  Lively has been influential in the Watchmen On the Walls ministries, which has calls gays and lesbians a disease that requires an “divine penicillin” and expressions of “muscular Christianity” to cure.  He is one of the prime advocates of reparative therapy in sub-Saharan Africa.  In Uganda, Lively testified before lawmakers as the infamous “Kill the Gays” bill was making its way through Parliament.  Now that the Ugandan government is reconsidering the stalled bill, which makes homosexual activity punishable by death, Lively’s pseudo-science and religious distortions will come into play again, urging state-sanctioned violence and oppression against LGBTQ people.

In this country, Lively excused the hate crime murder of gay immigrant Satendar Singh by Slavic Christian fundamentalists in Sacramento.  Singh’s murder heightened tensions between the LGBTQ community and Russian and Slavic fundamentalist churches, as reported at chapter length in the recent book by Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, Unfinished LivesIn effect, Lively has declared war on the LGBTQ community  time and time again. In a letter to the Washington Times on June 23, 2003, Lively wrote: “No clear-thinking person believes that the homosexual sexual ethic and that of the family-based society can peacefully coexist. …One must prevail at the expense of the other.”  At a Russian conference in Novosibirsk in August 2007, Lively’s violent metaphors came out in the open: “There is a war that is going on in the world. There is a war that is waging across the entire face of the globe. It’s been waging in the United States for decades, and it’s been waging in Europe for decades. It’s a war between Christians and homosexuals.”

In Lively’s RSVP letter to the LGBT community, though he changes his tone, there is no reason to believe he has moderated any of his virulent, anti-gay intentions for outlawing and criminalizing people based on their sexual orientation and gender variant identity.  He claims that God gave him a “Word” in March to speak directly to the gay community.  He writes to LGBTQ people: “I am appealing to you to begin to agree with God about homosexual sin, and to turn away from the seductive lie that God approves of homosexuality and wants you to embrace a homosexual identity . . . You must repent to be saved.”  Lively particularly singles out Open and Affirming Churches, which welcome LGBTQ people and celebrate their lives and loves, and reduces Christian faith to a condemnation of anyone who deviates from Lively’s norms.  Lively also condemns any attempt from the gay and lesbian community to do theology at odds with his own: “’Gay theology’ turns the logic of the Bible on its head, and tries to make the sinner “good enough” to earn heaven . . . This is a dangerous lie that leads straight to hell.”  The solution for LGBTQ people is to rush to Exodus International for anti-gay aversion brainwashing.

In an astonishing attempt to prey upon LGBTQ people who suffer from internalized homophobia, he finishes his letter with a simpering self-justification: “In publishing this letter I know that I will be subjecting myself to ridicule, abuse and hatred. You know very well how nasty some of your peers can be. Yet I am doing it anyway, because in Jesus I love you and I want you to be saved . . . Frankly, as I sit here at my computer, I wonder whether my entire career against your political and social agenda, and all of the notoriety I have achieve in your community might all have occurred so that I would be a person whose letter you would read today.”

Scott Lively is an example of the worst religious bigotry active in America today.  SPLC’s Ryan Lenz writes that Lively began his career in bigotry in 1992 seeking to classify homosexuality on a par with pedophilia and sadomasochism.  He has not changed, nor are his motives ever to be trusted.  Ask Satendar Singh’s family. 

October 27, 2011 Posted by | "Kill the Gays Bill", Alabama, Anglo Americans, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, California, gay men, gender identity/expression, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Internalized homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Massachusetts, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Russia, Russian Federation, Scott Lively, Social Justice Advocacy, Southern Poverty Law Center, transgender persons, transphobia, Uganda | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ugandan Gay Activist Killed in Cold Blood: Were Christians Accomplices in His Murder?

Kampala, Uganda – Prominent defender of Gay Rights in Uganda, David Kato, was murdered in his home by two blows with a hammer this Wednesday. Kato, 40-something at the time of his slaughter, was a well-known voice around the world for human rights, and an outspoken leader protesting Draconian legislation in his home country which would make consensual same-sex activity punishable by law, perhaps even requiring the state to execute convicted homosexuals. What responsibility does the Christian Church bear for the outrageous murder of David Kato? Many in Uganda, including leading church officials, priests, missionaries, and ministers, fervently believe in a sort of “gay conspiracy”on the part of same-sex loving men whom they say will infect their children with the “virus of homosexuality.” Friday, Kato’s funeral was marred by the homophobic outburst of an Anglican priest, Fr. Thomas Musoke, who loudly invoked dire comparisons with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah until mourners wrenched a microphone out of his hands, according to 365 Gay.  The Ugandan Anglican Church, active in encouraging resistance among conservative Episcopalians to the elevation of gays and lesbians as bishops in the United States in recent years, is well-known for opposing LGBTQ rights in the Central African nation.  Christian evangelical missionaries and so-called “experts” on homosexual sin from the United States, such as the notorious Watchman on the Walls Scott Lively, have preached the judgment of God on the Ugandan people if gays and lesbians are allowed to live and love openly in society. U.S. evangelicals exerting influence in Uganda teach that gays and lesbians could be changed to heterosexuality by prayer and counseling if they had enough faith. According to masslive.com, Lively, part of a 2009 evangelical mission to Uganda preaching anti-gay messages to officials and churchmen (Lively even spoke before the Ugandan Parliament during the tour), now says that it is “too early to call Kato’s murder a hate crime,” since the police have rushed to claim that the murder was the consequence of a simple robbery. In rebuttal, Val Kalende, chairwoman of an LGBT human rights group in Uganda said to the New York Times, “David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. evangelicals in 2009. The Ugandan government and the so-called U.S. evangelicals must take responsibility for David’s blood.” Indeed, well-funded groups such as the shadowy Washington C Street evangelical organization, “The Family,” have sent funds and encouragement for the “Kill The Gays” legislations still making its way through the Ugandan Parliament. M.P. David Bahati, primary sponsor of anti-gay legislation in Uganda, is affiliated with “The Family.”  NPR host, Michel Martin, explored the culpability of Christians for Kato’s murder with guests on her weekday broadcast, “Tell Me More,” this Friday.  Martin interviewed Jeffery Gettleman, East Africa Bureau chief for the New York Times, asking him directly, “This has also been a big story in the United States, of course, because of the participation of a group of American evangelicals whom we also interviewed on this program. One in particular named Scott Lively, who many human rights activists have said helped to create this context of intolerance. Do you think that that’s true? Do you think the American evangelicals’ visit there was really that influential?” Gettleman replied, “I do think it was influential. I think a lot of people in Uganda and the part of Africa where I live, in Kenya and most of this continent and probably most of this world, there’s many people who are homophobic. But it didn’t take a violent form. It was – people thought that, in Uganda, people thought gay people were strange, that they were outliers, but they weren’t really fired up to do anything about it.” Gettleman continued, “It was only after the visits by these Americans who billed themselves as experts in dealing with homosexual issues that the Ugandan politicians and church groups got really angry about it and suggested killing gay people.” Religious hate speech, whether “soft” in its rhetoric (“Love the Sinner/Hate the Sin”), or blatantly hostile (“Gays and Lesbians are an Abomination in God’s Sight, and Deserve to Die”) has consequences for the safety of LGBTQ people wherever they live. This is certainly true, in our opinion, in Central Africa. David Kato was deservedly called “the father of the Uganda gay rights movement.” In the wave of hostility in tabloid media toward LGBTQ people following the 2009 U.S. evangelical tour of Uganda, Kato’s lynching was suggested in the press. When Christian leaders justify the demonization of LGBTQ people for their sexual orientation or gender presentation, either by selectively quoting scripture and subsequently distorting its life-giving meaning, or by reading their own homophobia back into church teaching to claim that “Gays and Lesbians are sinners,” these clerics are not only exposing a vulnerable minority to religious, political, and social persecution.  They are also exposing their own theology and ethics as woefully bankrupt and void of spiritual integrity. Clerics in Uganda and the United States who stoke hatred against LGBTQ people are no longer messengers of God. They have become a mob of theological thugs.  Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Capetown, Desmond Tutu, is one of the few courageous voices of Christian integrity in Africa willing to speak out against religious intolerance and hate speech. In the Washington Post last March, Archbishop Tutu appealed for the church to own up to its role in fomenting hatred against gays and lesbians, and instead to commit its resources for repentance and reconciliation for all people.  He said, in part, “Hate has no place in the house of God. No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity — or because of their sexual orientation.” Tutu continued, “Our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters across Africa are living in fear. And they are living in hiding — away from care, away from the protection the state should offer to every citizen and away from health care in the AIDS era, when all of us, especially Africans, need access to essential HIV services. That this pandering to intolerance is being done by politicians looking for scapegoats for their failures is not surprising. But it is a great wrong. An even larger offense is that it is being done in the name of God. Show me where Christ said ‘Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones.’ Gay people, too, are made in my God’s image. I would never worship a homophobic God.” Amen, Archbishop!  Tutu must be joined by a world-wide chorus of Christian voices denouncing the murder of David Kato, the terrorization of his LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and renouncing the use of religion to incite bigotry and fear. Unless the world Christian community repents of its role in murder and mayhem like that in Uganda and Central Africa, Christian theology itself will continue to collapse from “heart-failure”–failing to discern and apply the heart of the message of Jesus Christ which was never bad tidings of fear, but Good News of mercy and justice for everyone.

January 29, 2011 Posted by | "Kill the Gays Bill", Africa, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Beatings and battery, C Street "The Family", funerals, gay bashing, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, home-invasion, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, mob-violence and lynching, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Protests and Demonstrations, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, soft homophobia, Uganda, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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