Wednesday, October 28, 2009

US Parents Lobby against Homopobic hate Crime

Parents of gays and lesbians, teachers and activists carrying photos of hate crime murder victims including Harvey Milk and Matthew Shepard will demonstrate in front of the White House on Wednesday 28 October from noon to 2 p.m. prior to the President signing the Matthew Shepard Amendment. The amendment adds gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disabilities to the federal hate crimes act.

The demonstration is organised by Equality Forum, an international LGBT civil rights organisation with an educational focus.

According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, there were 29 hate crime murders of LGBT Americans among the 2,424 LGBT hate crimes in 2008. Since 1998, when Matthew Shepard was murdered, there have been over 16,000 hate crime victims, on average, about 1,450 LGBT hate crimes per year.

“Homophobia has fueled carnage since Matthew Shepard’s murder 11 years ago,” stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director of Equality Forum. “The Matthew Shepard Amendment is the beginning not the end in recognising, addressing and eliminating homophobia in our schools, workplaces, neighborhoods and culture.”

“We applaud those in Congress and President Obama who support the Matthew Shepard Amendment,” stated Susan Wheeler of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, the mother of James Wheeler. “My son took his life after being repeatedly harassed in high school. He was surrounded in the locker room and urinated on. Jim never recovered from that humiliation.”

“We demonstrate as a reminder of the over 16,000 hate crime victims since Matthew’s brutal murder,” stated Michael and Barbara Klinman of Havertown, Pennsylvania, who are parents of a gay son. “These crimes are intended to intimidate the LGBT community and their ferocity impacts the soul of America.”

“As we carry the photos of murder victims of LGBT hate crimes, we stand-in for those whose lives have been silenced,” stated Carol Watchler, GLSEN Central New Jersey Co-Chair. “We demonstrate because we are concerned about the safety of youth. We want to ensure that gay and lesbian children are not hate crime statistics and can live without fear of homophobic violence.”

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