Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gay Man Severely Beaten in Tulsa Hate Crime

According to this article from Tulsa World, what should have been a 10-minute walk to a friend's house ended with a trip to the hospital for Brandon Patrick, a Tulsan who said he was severely beaten last weekend because of his sexual orientation.

Three people followed Patrick down the 1300 block of South Rockford Avenue about 11:45 p.m., yelling homophobic slurs and threats, he said.

Patrick, who is gay, said he ignored the group until they closed in and then asked why they were accosting him without provocation.

The assailants then started beating, biting and slashing at Patrick with a blade, he said, leaving him with several cuts on his head and body.

The 23-year-old has been peppered with insults before, but he said he never thought they would escalate to violence.

"I've never felt scared or feared for my safety before," he said. "You brush it off and walk on. That's what you're taught to do.

"This time, it didn't work."

Tulsa Police Officer Leland Ashley said the people who are accused of attacking Patrick are at large and were seen in a maroon Ford Mustang from the late 1990s or early 2000s.

Patrick described them as a woman in her early 40s and another woman and man, both in their late teens or early 20s.

Patrick said he regularly walks through the neighborhood and doesn't know his attackers. They might have seen him previously and decided to act Sunday, he said.

After his trip to the emergency room, Patrick saw an outpouring of support from across the country as his story was passed along via the social networking Web site Facebook.

Much of the support has been from Oklahomans for Equality, a Tulsa-based group that promotes fairness for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, the group's president, Toby Jenkins, said.

Oklahoma's hate-crimes law makes it a crime to "intimidate or harass another person because of the person's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin or disability."

Jenkins noted that the state law excludes sexual orientation from the qualifiers for a hate crime. As a result, police are investigating the case only as an assault and battery.

Designation as a hate crime would allow for punishment beyond what would be imposed for the assault.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this month that would make assaulting someone because of his or her sexual orientation a federal crime.

The Senate is expected to approve the measure, and President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law.

Patrick said it's frustrating that race and ethnicity are taken into account by state lawmakers but sexual orientation is not.

He said he hopes his ordeal will draw attention to the issue and lead to a change in state law.

Although Oklahoma isn't known for being particularly gay-friendly, gay men and lesbians are attacked at about the same rate as their urban counterparts in places such as New York and Chicago, Jenkins said.

"Hate crime, where people are targeted because of their sexual orientation, happens everywhere," he said.

"The kid was just walking down the sidewalk and got targeted," Jenkins said. "This raises the issue that we need to work on a more civilized society and a safe society for all of our citizens."

In response to this horrific crime, Nancy McDonald, chapter president of PFLAG Tulsa, said, "This case points to the importance of passing the Federal Hate Crimes bill so that states such as Oklahoma who have not included sexual orientation in the State Hate Crime Bill will relinquish the right to do so to the Federal Government and enable the Tulsa Police Department to prosecute the brutal attack of this young man as a Hate Crime."

1 comment:

maria said...

Reading such news it seems as if these homo-couples are not yet acceptable by the society....which is a rel sad thing to know even when the government have given them the legal rights.
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