Crown prosecutors in Quesnel have approved charges that include wilfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group, after a man was attacked Dec 24 at a local bar when several patrons decided he was gay.
RCMP Sgt Gary Clark-Marlow says an Alberta man was visiting relatives in the central BC city when he was assaulted by a group including several men and a woman who allegedly made numerous slurs about his sexual orientation.
The unidentified victim was beaten and kicked and had to be taken to hospital. His injuries included numerous abrasions and bruises as well as damage to his teeth which cost several thousand dollars to repair.
To date, only one person has been charged. In addition to the promoting hatred count, Dustin Huhn, age 22, of Quesnel has also been charged with assault and assault causing bodily harm.
Section 319 of Canada’s Criminal Code makes it an offence to make statements in public that “wilfully promote hatred against an identifiable group.” The identifiable groups protected by this section include race, religion, ethnic origin and sexual orientation, which was added in 2004 after Parliament passed then-MP Svend Robinson’s private member’s bill.
Clark-Marlow says this is an isolated incident and uncommon for Quesnel. “These type of incidents cannot be tolerated and will be investigated thoroughly by police,” he says.
But the investigation has been hampered by the lack of witnesses willing to come forward, Clark-Marlow adds, and the rest of those involved aren’t likely to turn themselves in.
“We have one person. However, we know that person was one of a group,” he says.
Police have appealed for public assistance in the case. Quesnel RCMP can be reached at 250.992.9211