|August 31st, 2013||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2013
Anti-gay groups stage mounting attacks in Ukraine.
KYIV, Ukraine — Taras Karasiichuk was near his home in Kyiv in May last year when he noticed a group of young men following him. They began taunting him with insults, then attacked with their fists.
“They were shouting, ‘Faggot, you faggot!’ and just punching me and kicking me all over,” he says. “I have no idea how many of them there were.”
Karasiichuk is president of Gay Alliance Ukraine. The brutal beating, which shattered his jaw in two places, took place several days after officials had cancelled what was to be the city’s first-ever gay pride parade.
It was an ominous sign, prompted by a rising wave of homophobia that’s spilled over from neighboring Russia, where a new law recently banned gay “propaganda.”
The attacks increased. In February, a group of men assaulted Karasiichuk steps from his office in the city center.
He escaped by scrambling into a nearby restaurant. His attackers remained outside, hurling expletives and stones, one of which shattered the restaurant’s front window, before they ran off.
But his most alarming encounter took place at a Kyiv nightclub, where a group of anti-gay activists in tracksuits slammed him against a wall before warning him to stop spreading “homopropaganda.”
They knew where he lived, worked and spent his time, he said. They also plastered photographs of him across anti-gay websites.
A longtime advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in Eastern Europe, Karasiichuk felt seriously threatened for the first time by what appeared to be part of a well-organized anti-gay campaign.
Other victims have suffered worse. After a young gay man named Armen Ovcharuk was attacked outside a Kyiv nightclub in October 2012, he died in the hospital days later from complications from a blow to his head.
A widely distributed image of the public beating of Gay-Forum Ukraine leader Svyatoslav Sheremet in June 2012 had already come to symbolize the growing violence LGBT people face here.
“For days I thought, ‘That’s enough. I’ll buy the first ticket to Stockholm and apply for refugee status,’” Karasiichuk says of the most recent attack against him. Instead he left Kyiv for the relative calm of Lviv, a city in western Ukraine.
In the past few months, numerous young men, some gay, others not, have been attacked simply for “appearing gay,” says Stas Mischenko, Gay Alliance Ukraine vice president.
Although Ukraine was the first post-Soviet country to decriminalize homosexuality following independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, experts say the mounting attacks are partly explained by the continuing widespread intolerance of sexual minorities, who are often subjected to stereotyping and stigmatizing.
“We see these attitudes from the general public on up to police, prosecutors and government officials,” says Heather McGill of Amnesty International.
A 2012 Gorshenin Institute study showed 72 percent of those polled had negative attitudes toward sexual minorities.
Some 65 percent of Kyiv residents surveyed by the Socis Sociological Center in 2010 said homosexuality is a perversion or mental disease.
In a 2012 analysis, Nash Mir (Our World) Gay and Lesbian Center coordinator Andriy Maymulakhin warned of “increased polarization of negative attitudes towards the LGBT community.”
The mounting anti-gay fervor has generated support for homophobic groups such as Occupy Pedofilyay (Occupy Pedophilia), which began in Russia before expanding into Ukraine.
Founded in 2012 by a mohawk-wearing, Nazi-saluting 29-year-old Russian named Maxim “Slasher” Martsinkevich, the vigilante organization aims to combat pedophilia, which it believes is closely related to homosexuality, with such tactics as beating gay and bisexual men with everything from fists to dildos, publicly outing them and sometimes forcing them to drink urine.
Amnesty International and other rights organizations say such groups are influencing public opinion, aided by a culture of impunity and the dissemination of false information about homosexuality.
Another group called Occupy Gerontilyaj (Occupy Gerontophilia) targets boys, often teenagers.
The group films its encounters with gays on mobile phones and posts them on YouTube.
Occupy Pedofilyay has won a massive following on social media, particularly on VK.com, the Russian equivalent of Facebook. The movement’s Kyiv pages show links to dozens of regional factions.
The group uses social networks to organize and communicate and disseminate its videos of the confrontations, referred to as “safaris.”
It attracts new members by allowing them to take part. Occupy Pedofilyay Kyiv’s VK.com page says it costs $15 dollars to participate in a safari.
After initially agreeing to answer questions from GlobalPost by email, Occupy Pedophilia Kyiv leader Dmitry Mikolenko later declined. “I have read the questions and I don't like them,” he wrote.
However, Andrey Lapshuk, head of media relations for Occupy Pedofilyay Kyiv, said his faction prefers psychological tactics to physical violence. “They deserve [being attacked], I think,” he said of gay men.
Observers say Occupy Pedofilyay is becoming more active each day.
This week, reports said the group staged a handful of violent assaults against young, gay men in the central Ukrainian region of Zhytomyr. No arrests have been made.
The authorities have remained silent on the subject, to the dismay of rights activists who say police have targeted gays in some cases.
In the eastern Kalinin region near the city of Donetsk, three officers allegedly posing as gay men on dating websites recently lured closeted gays into meetings during which they blackmailed them for money, threatening to beat them and to out them to their families. The men ended up paying to the tune of $9,000, the local online news site Novosti Donbass reported.
Officials filed extortion charges against the officers, but never brought the case to trial.
The anti-gay tide appears set to grow. For now, says Olena Semenova of the NGO New Wave for the Better Future in the southern city of Kherson, “the daily lives of LGBT people in Ukraine will be governed by ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’”
|September 10th, 2013||#2|
Join Date: Aug 2013
13-year-old boy arrested in possible anti-gay Cleveland hate crime beatings
Gay men have said they were attacked by a group of young men yelling epithets outside the well-known bar Cocktails Cleveland over the past two weekends. Ric Scardino, who was beaten with a broom Friday night, said the age of the suspect police captured was ‘disgusting’ after his tormentors allegedly outlined how they would abuse him with the handle
Over the past two weekends, gay men have said they were attacked outside a well-known gay bar in Cleveland. But the true shock came after the second assault when police arrested a suspect: a 13-year-old boy.
"To me, that is disgusting. I was so upset that the boy was 13," said Ric Scardino, 58, who was attacked Friday night. "That means he was taught that hatred. He was taught to be violent."
About 8 p.m. that night, Scardino was on Cocktails Cleveland's rooftop patio when a group of about 10 young men started throwing rocks and mulch at the staff and customers.
"When a large rock came in, I got upset and ran out," Scardino said. He walked to the corner, where the youngsters beat him with a broom and outlined how they would abuse him with the broom handle.
"I reached in my pockets for a can of Mace. A boy in a white shirt yelled, 'F----t’s got a gun!' and they scattered," he said
The police later caught a suspect and arrested him. It was not until the next day that Scardino learned how old the boy was and his heart sank even lower.
The city recently offered the bar extra lighting, tree-trimming to prevent attackers from hiding in the brush, and heightened police coverage, according to bar manager James Foster.
Cocktails also amped up its own security and started holding rallies against hate crimes in light of the recent attacks.
The first assault was captured on security cameras just after midnight Sept. 1. Customer Jared Fox, who now lives in Brooklyn, was back in Cleveland to visit family when he was confronted by a similar group of young men outside the bar.
In what he called a hate crime, the gang allegedly targeted Fox because they thought a gay man would be an easy person to rob and would not put up a fight
Fox said they called him "one of those broke f----ts" before beating him to the ground. He managed to get up and run off, but he said they tackled him and started stomping on his head as they yelled epithets.
"Do you want to die?" one of the youngsters asked Fox, he said.
"Who wants to die?" Fox later asked himself as tears welled up in his eyes. "Not me."
Fox said he suffered a black eye, a ruptured ear drum and bruises across his body. One of the suspects, he said, punched his glasses into his face, slicing his nose.
"It would be easy for us to be angry, but right now anger is not the best emotion. We need unity and solidarity to bring the community together," Fox said.
Fox said the help of both the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the general public is needed to combat anti-gay prejudice. Gays need to take care of one another, he said, but you have to wonder what those children's parents are teaching them about homosexuality.
"They are children," Fox emphasized. "That was the saddest thing of all. We as a society need to work harder. It's not just a Cleveland problem. It's all over."
"By teaching kids that homosexuality is wrong, they are promoting hate," he said. "Let's teach them
diversity! Let's teach them how to behave, that it's okay to be a different color, race or religion."
Martin L. Flask, director of public safety for Cleveland, released a statement in the aftermath of the attacks that said he will work with the mayor's office to reduce hate-based violence.
"Hate crimes do not and should not define Cleveland as a community and one of Cleveland's greatest assets is its racial, ethnic, religious and cultural diversity."
But both Scardino and Foster accuse Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson of ignoring the pleas for help from the city's gay population.
"In times of tragedy, we look to our leaders to speak up. By ignoring it, the mayor is saying it is okay," said Scardino. "A human life is worth a lot more than one vote."
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|September 18th, 2013||#3|
Join Date: Aug 2013
According to police, a 69-year-old man was stabbed to death Monday afternoon in Queens because his attacker thought he was gay. Steven Torres, 22, was arrested at the scene and charged with murder as a hate crime.
The New York Daily News is reporting the crime took place as the 69-year-old, identified as Ever Orozco, parked his car after dropping his wife off at a doctor's office.
"He (Torres) said the victim was blowing kisses to him. That's what set him off," a police source told the Daily News. "This is what he is claiming."
Torres allegedly stabbed Orozco and then fled, with several witnesses chasing after him.
"There was a lot of screaming, and all I could see was the guy was stabbing him — stabbing him and stabbing him," one witness told NBC New York. Another witness described the scene to WABC.
"I really don't know what to think," witness Julio Lobaton said. "I'm just shaken because what happen to this poor guy...He was screaming, 'Help me help me.' I tried to intervene, but then he pulled a knife and started stabbing the guy on the floor. Then he went up about three steps came back."
Lobaton added that Torres seemed unfazed when police finally arrested him.
"He was laughing, yes," Lobaton said. "He was laughing like nothing."
The stabbing comes just four months after a surge of anti-gay crime in New York City. During a two week span, at least six people were attacked for being gay, including one man who was killed. In July, an LGBT youth group was threatened and assaulted on the subway after the Pride parade. And last month, a woman was murdered, allegedly because she was transgender.