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Violence against LGBT people, queer identifying and the same-sex attracted are actions which may occur either at the hands of individuals or groups, or as part of governmental enforcement of laws targeting people who are perceived to violate heteronormative rules and who contravene protocols of gender roles. People who are mistakenly perceived to be LGBT may also be targeted.

A hate crime is when individuals become victimized because of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation (Conklin,1992)(CSVR). Hate crimes against homosexuals often occur because the perpetrator is homophobic. The attacks can also be blamed on society itself. A variety of monotheistic religious groups as well as proponents of extremist political ideologies condemn homosexuality and relate it to being weak, ill, feminine, and morally wrong.[1] Religion plays a significant role in perpetuating these views. Some religious followers believe that the Bible says that homosexuality is wrong, while other religious leaders and people have dismissed the claim as exaggeration and misinterpretation[2]

Violence targeted at people because of their perceived sexuality may include threats, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, rape, torture, attempted murder and murder. These actions may be caused by cultural, religious, or political mores and biases.

In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that 15.6% of hate crimes reported to police in 2004 were founded on perceived sexual orientation. 61% of these attacks were against gay men, 14% against lesbians, 2% against heterosexuals and 1% against bisexuals, while attacks against GLBT people at large made up 20%.[3] Violence based on perceived gender identity was not recorded in the report.

In the United States, the FBI reported that for 2006, hate crimes against gays increased to 16%, from 14% in 2005, as percentages of total documented hate crimes across the US.[4] The 2006 annual report, released on November 19, 2007, also said that hate crimes based on sexual orientation are the third most common type, behind race and religion.[4]

The Origins of Persecution of LGBT People

There is evidence that same sex unions have occurred since the beginning of recorded history in Egypt, China, Greece, Rome and Japan.[5] Famous lovers include the Egyptian couple Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum and the Greek couple Harmodius and Aristogiton. The first recorded use of the word "marriage" for same-sex couples occurs during the Roman Empire. A number of marriages are recorded to have taken place during this period.[6]

The rise of Christianity changed attitudes to same-sex unions. In the year 342, the Christian emperors Constantius and Constans declared that same-sex marriage to be illegal.[7] In the year 390, the Christian emperors Valentinian II, Theodoisus and Arcadius declared homosexual sex to be illegal and those who were guilty of it were condemned to be publicly burned alive.[8] The Christian emperor Justinian (527-565) made homosexuals a scapegoat for problems such as "famines, earthquakes, and pestilences." [9]

State-sponsored violence

Since the rise of Christianity, homosexual activity has been repressed by certain governing bodies and members of society under pains of mutilation, death and social ostracism. Such laws and codes (in English-speaking societies, usually describing male homosexuality as buggery or sodomy), were in force in Europe from the fifth to the twentieth centuries, and in Muslim countries from the beginning of the Muslim era up to and including the present day. Among the states that have historically punished homosexuality with death are:

  • Abbasid, Baghdad under the Caliph Al-Hadi (785-786)
  • The City of Florence during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
    • Illustrative victims: Giovanni di Giovanni (1350 - 1365?), Florentine boy, castrated and "burned between the thighs with a red-hot iron" by court order;
  • The Swiss canton of Zürich in the Renaissance
    • Illustrative victims: Knight von Hohenberg d. 1482, Swiss knight, burned at the stake together with his lover, his young squire;
      File:Burning of Sodomites.jpg

      The knight von Hohenberg and his squire, being burned at the stake for sodomy, Zurich 1482 (Zurich Central Library)

  • The kingdom of France during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
    • Illustrative victims: Jacques Chausson (1618 - 1661), French minor writer, burned alive for attempting to seduce the son of a nobleman;
  • England from from 1533 until 1861; see Buggery Act 1533
  • Nazi Germany; see History of homosexual people in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust
  • Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban (1996-2001)
  • Iraq, post war (2003-)
    • In January 2007, a United Nations report described the increased persecution, torture and extrajudicial killing of Iraqi lesbians and gay men by the Shia death squads of the Badr and Sadr militias (the armed wings of the two main Shia parties that control the government of Iraq). In 2005, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa on his website calling for the execution of gays in the "worst, most severe way". Following protests from UK based Iraqi gay rights group, Sistani agreed to remove the fatwa from his website except for the section calling for the punishment of lesbianism.[10][11][12][13]

Present-day countries where homosexual acts are still punishable by death:

  • Iran
  • Mauritania
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sudan
  • Yemen

Extralegal violence

Private citizens have at times taken extralegal action to repress those alleged to be LGBT. In many parts of the world, including much of the EU and some jurisdictions in the United States, these acts may be legally classified as hate crimes, which increases the resulting penalty if convicted. Sometimes, people have been the target of anti-LGBT violence because they were perceived to be LGBT, whether they were or not.

Examples of extralegal violence

Acts of violence alleged or proven to have been inspired by hatred of LGBT victims

  • The arson of the The Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 24, 1973 killing 32 people.
  • The stabbing death of Robert Hillsborough in San Francisco, California June 21, 1977 by a man shouting "faggot."
  • On November 27, 1978, openly gay San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk was assassinated by political rival Dan White at San Francisco City Hall, along with Mayor George Moscone. Outrage over Milk's and Moscone's assassinations and the short sentence given to White (7 years) prompted the White Night Riots.[14]
  • Tennessee Williams was the victim of an assault in January 1979 in Key West, being beaten by five teenage boys. He escaped serious injury. The episode was part of a spate of anti-gay violence inspired by an anti-gay newspaper ad run by a local Baptist minister.[15]
  • The beating death of Terry Knudsen by three men in Loring Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 5, 1979.
  • The beating death of Les Benscoter on June 15, 1979 in his St. Paul, Minnesota apartment with the words, "fags will die" written in toothpaste on his furniture.
  • The beating of Rick Hunter and John Hanson by Minneapolis police outside the Y'all Come Back Saloon on January 1, 1982. Hennepin County Hospital emergency room staff employees testified in court that the police called the two men queers and sissies while the men were being treated for their injuries.
  • The beating to death of Declan Flynn in Fairview Park, Dublin in 1983. The murder and subsequent suspended sentences of the perpetrators who pleaded guilty to murder saw the emergence of a more vocal gay community in the aftermath.[16]
  • The beating death of Charlie Howard in Bangor, Maine in 1984.
  • On May 13, 1988, Rebecca Wight was killed when she and her partner, Claudia Brenner, were shot by Stephen Roy Carr while hiking and camping along the Appalachian Trail. Carr later claimed that he became enraged by the couple's lesbianism when he saw them having sex. Carr claimed the woman taunted him by having sex in front of him.
  • The fatal stabbing of James Zappalorti, a gay Vietnam veteran (1945 – 1990)
  • The death of Julio Rivera in New York City on July 2, 1990 by two men who beat him with a hammer and stabbed with a knife because he was gay.
  • The killing of Paul Broussard, a Houston-area banker (1968-1991)
  • The rape and later murder of Brandon Teena, a transsexual man (1972 – 1993). The events leading to Mr. Teena's death were depicted in the movie Boys Don't Cry.
  • On March 9, 1995, Scott Amedure was murdered after revealing his homosexual attraction to his friend Jonathan Schmitz on The Jenny Jones Show.
  • The murders of Roxanne Ellis and Michelle Abdill, a lesbian couple in Medford, Oregon in 1995, by a man who said he thought their "lifestyle" was "sick."
  • The bombing of the Otherside Lounge, a lesbian nightclub in Atlanta, by Eric Robert Rudolph, the "Olympic Park Bomber," on February 21, 1997; five bar patrons were injured.
  • The death by beating and exposure of Matthew Shepard, a gay student (1976 – 1998)
  • The fatal beating of supposedly gay teenager Jeff Whittington in Wellington, New Zealand on May 8, 1999.
  • In May 1999, Admiral Duncan pub, a gay bar in Soho was bombed by David Copeland, killing at least 2 people and wounding 73 people.[17]
  • The murder of Pfc Barry Winchell on July 6, 1999. He was dating Calpernia Addams, a transgendered author.
File:Atherton, John (1598-1640) & Childe, John (16 -1640) - 1641.jpg

John Atherton, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, was hanged for sodomy under a law that he had helped to institute. His lover was John Childe, his steward and tithe proctor, also hanged. Anonymous pamphlet, 1641.

  • The July 1, 1999, murders of gay couple Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder by white supremacist brothers Matthew and Tyler Williams. Matthew Williams claimed that by killing the couple he was following "obeying the law of God," because he believed homosexuality violated God's laws. Williams said he hoped his actions would inspire further violence against homosexuals and ethnic minorities.
  • The murder of Steen Fenrich by his stepfather, in September 1999. His dismembered remains were found in March 2001, with the phrase "gay nigger number one" scrawled on his skull along with his social security number.
  • In November 1999, Blah Bar, a gay bar in Cape Town, South Africa, was bombed injuring 2 people.[18]
  • The murder of Arthur "J.R." Warren by three teenage boys on July 3, 2000, who believed Warren spread a rumor that he and one of the boys had a sexual relationship. Warren's killers ran over his body to disguise the murder as a hit-and-run.
  • One notorious incident of gay-bashing occurred on September 22, 2000. Ronald Gay entered a gay bar in Roanoke, Virginia and opened fire on the patrons, killing Danny Overstreet and injuring six others. Ronald said he was angry over what his name now meant, and deeply upset that three of his sons had changed their surname. He claimed that he had been told by God to find and kill lesbians and gay men, describing himself as a "Christian Soldier working for my Lord".[19]
  • Aaron Webster, a gay man in Vancouver, British Columbia, was beaten to death in Stanley Park in 2001.
  • On June 16, 2001, Fred Martinez, a transgender student was attacked and beaten to death by 18-year old Shaun Murphy.
  • On June 30, 2001, hundreds of soccer hooligans attacked participants of the first Serbian Pride Parade in Belgrade.
  • The 2002 homicide of Nizah Morris, a transgender in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the mishandling of the case by the Philadelphia Police Department.
  • The non-fatal stabbing of Bertrand Delanoë, a gay politician, Mayor of Paris, France, in 2002
  • The killing of Gwen Araujo, a transsexual woman (1985 – 2002). Michael Magidson, Jaron Nabors, and José Merél were charged with the murder as a hate crime, with Jason Cazares charged as an accomplice. Nabors made a deal with prosecution, receiving a manslaughter conviction in exchange for testimony, but his testimony was largely considered unreliable. The jury hung on Cazares, who then pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter to avoid a retrial. Magidson and Merél were convicted of second-degree murder, but the hate crime enhancement was not accepted by the jury.
  • Sakia Gunn (May 26, 1987 – May 11, 2003) was a 15-year old African American lesbian who was murdered in a hate crime in Newark, New Jersey. On the night of May 11, Gunn was returning from a night out in Greenwich Village, Manhattan with her friends. While waiting for the #1 New Jersey Transit bus at the corner of Broad and Market Streets in downtown Newark, Gunn and her friends were propositioned by two men. When the girls rejected their advances, by declaring themselves to be lesbians, the men attacked them. Gunn fought back, and one of the men, Richard McCullough, stabbed her in the chest. Both men immediately fled the scene in their vehicle. After one of Gunn's friends flagged down a passing driver, she was taken to nearby University Hospital, where she died.
  • On June 17, 2003, Richie Phillips was murdered by Joseph Cottrell. His body was later found in a suitcase, in Rough River Lake. During his trial, Cottrell's relatives testified that he lured Phillips to his death, and killed him because he was gay.
  • On July 23, 2003, Nireah Johnson and Brandie Coleman were murdered by Paul Moore, when Moore learned after a sexual encounter that Johnson was transgender.
  • On July 31, 2003, 37-year-old Glenn Kopitske was killed by 17-year-old Gary Hirte. Hirte pleaded insanity, claiming he killed Kopitske in a murderous rage after a consensual sexual encounter with the victim, because he felt a homosexual act was "worse than murder."
  • On June 5, 2004, Jamaican Gay rights activist Brian Williamson was murdered with a machete, suffering several stab wounds to neck and face.
  • On September 28, 2004, Sierra Leonean gay and lesbian rights activist FannyAnn Eddy was murdered while she was working late in her office. Her attackers have escaped from prison and have never been recaptured and prosecuted.
  • On October 2, 2004 two men in Waverly, Ohio beat Daniel Fetty to death with bricks and boards. Prosecuters believe it was because Fetty was gay.
  • On January 28, 2005, Ronnie Paris, a three-year-old African American child died due to brain injuries resulting from abuse by his father. According to his mother and other relatives, Ronnie Paris, Jr., would slam his son into walls and force him to "slap-box" because he was concerned the child was gay and feared his son would grow up a sissy.
  • On March 11, 2005, Jason Gage—an openly gay man—was murdered in his Waterloo, Iowa apartment by an assailant who claimed Gage had made advances and was killed when he fought with the victim. The district attorney in the case noted neither the victim or the perpetrator, or the apartment bore any signs of struggle. Gage was bludgeoned to death with a bottle, and stabbed in the neck with a shard of glass.
  • On June 30, 2005, Yishai Shlisel, a Haredi Jew stabbed three marchers in a gay pride parade in Jerusalem, Israel, claiming he acted on behalf of God.[20]
  • Jody Dobrowski, murdered in 2005 in London, the two murderers were later sentenced to life in prison.
  • In September 2005, Lauren Harries, a former child antiques expert who had gender realignment surgery to become a woman, her father and brother were attacked by 8 young men in their home in Cardiff. According to court, the youths were shouting and swearing and were heard to shout out the word "tranny" - a term of abuse associated with hate crime.[21]
  • In December 2005, a Jamaican mob chased an alleged gay man who, fearful of the crowd, jumped into the water and drowned.[22]
  • In February 2006, Gisberta Salce Júnior, a homeless Brazilian transsexual living in extreme social exclusion in the Portuguese city of Oporto, was tortured and anally raped with sticks over a period of three days and then thrown into a pit and left to die in an abandoned construction site. A group of twelve to fourteen adolescent boys between the age of 12 and 16 admitted to committing this crime.[23]
  • On February 2, 2006, 18 year-old Jacob D. Robida entered a bar in New Bedford, Massachusetts, confirmed that it was a gay bar, and then attacked patrons with a gun and a hatchet, wounding at least three.[24]
  • In April 2006, students rioted at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica and attacked an alleged gay student.[22]
  • On April 6, 2006, two American television producers, CBS Evening News senior producer Richard Jefferson and 48 Hours producer-researcher Ryan Smith, were beaten with a tire iron outside the Sunset Beach Bar on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten by a group of four men and two women. The attack left Smith unable to speak properly, having suffered a skull fracture and brain damage.[25]
  • On June 10, 2006, Kevin Aviance was robbed and beaten by a group of men who yelled anti-gay slurs at him
  • On July 30, 2006, six men were brutally beaten after leaving the San Diego, California Gay Pride festival. One of the gay men was beaten so badly that he had to undergo extensive facial reconstructive surgery. All but one of the attackers were adults the exception being a 15-year-old. The attackers were charged with hate crimes.[26]
  • On October 8, 2006, Michael Sandy was attacked by four heterosexual young men who lured him into meeting after chatting with him online, while they were looking for gay men to rob. Sandy was hit by a car while trying to escape his attackers. He died five days later, never having regained consciousness.
  • On February 14, 2007, three gay men and the gay activist Gareth Williams were stoned by a huge mob in a homophobic attack in Kingston, Jamaica. International human rights organisations have described Jamaica as one of the most homophobic places in the world[27][28]
  • On April 8, 2007, approximately 100 men gathered outside a church where 150 people were attending the funeral of a gay man in Mandeville, Jamaica. According to mourners, the crowd broke the windows with bottles and shouted, “We want no battyman [gay] funeral here. Leave or else we’re going to kill you. We don’t want no battyman buried here in Mandeville.” [22]
  • On May 12, 2007, Roberto Duncanson was murdered in Brooklyn, New York. He was stabbed to death by Omar Willock, who claimed Duncanson had flirted with him.
  • May 16,2007, Sean William Kennedy, 20, was walking to his car from Brew's Bar in Greenville, SC when Andrew Moller, 18, got out of another car and approached Kennedy. Investigators said that Moller made a comment about Kennedy's sexual orientation, and threw a fatal punch because he didn't like another man's sexual preference.[29]
  • On May 29, 2007, Michael Marcil, better known as drag queen Dixie Landers was beaten outside of an Ottawa, Ontario gay pub. Andrew Lefebvre and Sheri-Lee Rand have been charged for the attack.[30]
  • On July 7, 2007, 30 participants at a gay pride event in Croatia were attacked by multiple assailants. The attackers had also prepared Molotov cocktails but were stopped by the police before using them. Many people taking part in Gay Pride marches in Eastern Europe (e.g: Romania, Russia, Serbia) have been beaten after leaving the marches.[31][32]
  • In September 2007, Osvan Inacio dos Santos, 19, was attacked and murdered in a street near a bar where he had just won the local "Miss Gay" competition in the town of Batingas in northeast Brazil. dos Santos' naked body was found on Sunday morning and forensic examination found his skull had been fractured and indicated sexual assault.[33]
  • On December 3, 2007, Craig Gee was attacked by four men whilst holding his boyfriend's hand walking down Crown Street in Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia. Part of his skull was reduced to powder and his leg was broken during the attack.[34] This incident prompted a vigil against the rising level of homophobia in the city and alleged apathy from police,[35] and despite the attack, Gee and his boyfriend joined the Chief of Parade Margaret Cho to lead the 2008 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.[36]
  • In January, 2008, three gay men were attacked in the privacy of their dwelling by an angry mob who had days before threatened them if they did not leave the community in Mandeville, Jamaica. According to reports, two men were hospitalised, one with serious injuries, while another man is still missing and feared dead.[22][28]
  • In February 2008, Brazilian gay rights activist Alexandre Peixe dos Santos was attacked and beaten at the Sao Paulo's Gay Pride Association offices in Brazil. Activists estimate that more than 2,680 gay people were murdered in Brazil between 1980 and 2006[37]
  • On February 12, 2008, Lawrence "Larry" King, a 15 year old junior highschool student was shot by a classmate at E.O. Green School in Oxnard, California. He was taken off life support after doctors declared him brain dead on February 15. According to Associated Press reports, "prosecutors have charged a 14-year-old classmate with premeditated murder with hate-crime and firearm-use enhancements".[38][39][40]
  • In February 2008, transsexual Duanna Johnson was beaten by a police officer while she was held in the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center. Johnson said the officers reportedly called her a “faggot” and “he-she,” before and during the incident.[41][42]
  • In Rochester, New York on March 16, 2008 police say Lance Neve was beaten unconscious because Neve was gay. A man attacked Neve at a bar leaving him with a fractured skull, and a broken nose.[43]
  • In Baltimore County, Maryland on May 29, 2008 eighteen year old Steven Parrish—a member of the Young Swans subgroup of the Bloods—was murdered by Steven T. Hollis III and Juan L. Flythe after they found "gay messages" on his cell phone. They felt having a gay member would make their gang appear weak and that by killing Parrish they could prevent that perception.[44]

See also


  1. Bishop accuses gays of 'conspiracy' against the Catholic ChurchJoanna Sugden
  2. A church's struggle over gay marriage The United Church of Christ - famous for setting precedent - considers backing same-sex marriage at its national synod. By Jane Lampman | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
  3. Hate Crime - Crime in the United States 2004
  4. 4.0 4.1 (2007-11-20). "FBI Shows Gay-Bashing Increase in 2006". The Advocate. Retrieved on 2007-11-25.
  5. Homosexuality in ancient Greece, Homosexuality in ancient Rome, Homosexuality in Japan, Homosexuality in China, Homosexuality in ancient Egypt,
  6. Suetonius Life of Nero 28-29; Martial Epigrams 1.24, 12.42; etc.
  7. Theodosian Code 9.8.3: "When a man marries and is about to offer himself to men in womanly fashion (quum vir nubit in feminam viris porrecturam), what does he wish, when sex has lost all its significance; when the crime is one which it is not profitable to know; when Venus is changed to another form; when love is sought and not found? We order the statutes to arise, the laws to be armed with an avenging sword, that those infamous persons who are now, or who hereafter may be, guilty may be subjected to exquisite punishment.
  8. (Theodosian Code 9.7.6): All persons who have the shameful custom of condemning a man's body, acting the part of a woman's to the sufferance of alien sex (for they appear not to be different from women), shall expiate a crime of this kind in avenging flames in the sight of the people.
  9. Justinian Novels 77, 144
  10. Iraqi police 'killed 14-year-old boy for being homosexual' - Middle East, World -
  11. Gay News From
  12. Gays Living in Shadows of New Iraq - New York Times
  13. Iraqi Ayatollah removes gay fatwa- from Pink News- all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News
  14. Randy Shilts (1988), The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, MacMillan, ISBN 0312019009 
  15. Key West: The Last Resort”, Time Magazine, February 19, 1979, <,8816,912357,00.html> 
  16. Out at last”, Sunday Business Post, June 8, 2008, <> 
  17. Bomb Kills 2 in London Gay Bar; Extremists Tied to Three Attacks - New York Times
  18. BBC News | Africa | Bomb blast in gay clubland
  19. BBC News | AMERICAS | Murder charge for gay-bar gunman
  21. BBC NEWS | Wales | Transsexual and family attacked
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 - Gay Men in Jamaica Attacked by Mob
  23. ILGA | Transexual Murdered in Portugal
  24. - Man, 18, sought after gun, hatchet attack at gay bar - Feb 2, 2006
  25. San Francisco Bay Times
  27. Direland: Jamaica: Gay Leader Escapes St. Valentine'S Day Lynch Mob
  28. 28.0 28.1 Homophobic mob attack Jamaican gay men- from Pink News- all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News
  29. Deputies: Man Punched, Killed Because He Was Gay - Greenville News Story - WYFF Greenville
  30. Dixie out of hospital; two people charged
  31. Croat charged with hate crime for attempting to attack gay parade - International Herald Tribune
  32. MyWire | AFP: Violence at Croatian Gay Pride march
  33. Gay beauty contest winner murdered- from Pink News- all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News
  34. 'Sorry, we can't help you' - Sydney Star Observer
  35. Vigil Attracts Huge Crowd - Sydney Star Observer
  36. Bashing Victims to Lead Parade - Sydney Star Observer
  37. Gay rights leader attacked in Brazil- from Pink News- all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News
  38. The Bay Area Reporter Online | Breaking news:
    Vigil Tues. for slain Oxnard teen
  39. KSBY 6 Action News, Weather, Sports: Covering California's Central Coast | Organs harvested from Oxnard school shooting victim
  40. Victim's family members say they will donate teen's organs : Oxnard : Ventura County Star
  41. Transsexual Beaten; Officer Fired - Kansas City News Story - KCTV Kansas City

External links

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