Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Bible and Homophobia and Hate Crimes

At or near the end of June the Gay Police Association (GPA) in the UK placed this advertisment in The Independent newspaper just before the Europride Gay and Lesbian parade in London. Apparently they have recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator.

In July the BBC reported that the GPA was being investigated by Scotland Yard on the basis of this claim.

The issue has now been swept up into discussions about the scope of the Commission on Equalities and Human Rights which is germane to that context. But what of yours and mine?

There's no doubt in my mind that the Bible can be used to rationalize many viewpoints including homophobia but regardless of your reaction to the advertisment, the issue of hate crimes is very much with us.

Data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on hate crimes reported in the United States for 2005 makes it clear that sexual orientation remains the third-highest recorded bias crime in our country, which underscores that anti-gay hate crimes are a very real problem nationwide.

On Wednesday October 18th a statement was released by HRC (Human Rights Campaign) President Joe Solmonese on the hate crime against New York resident Michael Sandy, a young gay African-American man from New York City.

Said Solmonese:

“The Human Rights Campaign mourns the death of Michael Sandy, a member of our community, and our condolences go out to his family for their loss. We have been following the developments of the attack to learn more about the case and we will continue to work with the local organizations involved.

“This senseless attack comes on the heels of the annual FBI report on national hate crime statistics — which indicates that crimes against GLBT persons continue to be a serious problem for our communities and our nation. It is even more sensitive when it is of a dual nature of race intersecting with sexual orientation. It is ironic that this year’s FBI report did not include crimes committed in New York and many other jurisdictions. With sexual orientation remaining among the most common bias crime categories in the United States, it is critical that state and local jurisdictions address these crimes and report them to the FBI.”

Hate crimes affect not just the individual but the whole community by sending a message that persecuted groups will not be tolerated. This is more than just a matter of enforcing legislation: it is a matter of community ethos and personal relations.

Here's an example from Matthew Shepard's father Denis Shepard from the Matthew Shepard Foundation website home page. You'll need Quick Time to view it. He concludes:-

"Your son is your son and your daughter is your daughter regardless of whether they are straight or gay."

1 comment:

Rev Dr Mom said...

I have such a hard time getting my head around this on so many levels.

First, I am always appalled when people try to justify violent behavior based on religoius beliefs.

Second, I have trouble understanding why, no matter what one's beleifs about homosexuality are, some people are so threatened by the mere existence of people different from themselves.

Third, I am disturbed by those who resort to violence as a way of addressing whatever the problem of the moment is.

But I am probably hopelessly naive and idealistic.

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