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Bassi brothers’ first appearance in court

'It's important to show these violations are unacceptable': Regier

David Holtzman and Peter Regier went to court for their alleged gaybashers' first appearance "to make sure there are consequences. It's the only way things change." Credit: Jeremy Hainsworth photo

 Two Richmond brothers charged in the assault of a gay Vancouver couple outside their Keefer Place home last month will return to court Aug 9 after a first appearance on July 5.

Parminder Singh Peter Bassi, 30, is charged with two counts of assault causing bodily harm in connection with the June 12 incident. Ravinder Robbie Bassi, 27, is charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm.

The brothers were not in Downtown Community Court for the brief hearing on Monday.

Their lawyer, David Baker, told Judge David Pendleton he had only just been retained and did not have sufficient documentation to proceed.

Peter Regier and David Holtzman returned home last month to find two men drinking on their doorstep. When Holtzman asked one of the men not to urinate near their door, he alleges the men hurled “a barrage” of homophobic slurs at them and then physically attacked them.

The men repeatedly called them “fucking faggots” and “cocksuckers,” Holtzman told Xtra after the incident in which Regier says they were “attacked and savagely beaten.”

Both were taken to hospital and treated for concussions. Regier needed staples to close his scalp wound.

The couple went to court for the Bassis’ scheduled first appearance. Regier says they were “nervous and anxious” about attending but felt it was in the interest of receiving justice that they be there.

“It’s important to show these violations are unacceptable,” Regier says, “and to make sure there are consequences. It’s the only way things change.”

But, he laments, the assaults on gay people “keep on happening.”

A lot of that comes down to education about accepting people’s differences, he believes.

“The message isn’t getting out there,” he says. “Where is the social justice curriculum in this province? It teaches responsibility and inclusion. I don’t think that’s something to be afraid of; I think that’s something to be embraced.”

A number of members of the gay community were in court to support the couple.

Sharyle Lyndon says she was in Hawaii when she learned of the alleged attack.

“I think the community should show up in droves (in court) to say this won’t be tolerated,” Lyndon says. “If they get a slap on the wrist like has happened in the past, it’s an open door to beat us up.”

“Right now, Vancouver’s not a real safe place if you look at the statistics,” she adds. 

With all the work Regier and Holtzman have done for the gay community, it’s time to support them back, Lyndon adds.

Regier is past vice president of the McLaren Housing Society, which provides affordable homes and support services to low-income people living with HIV/AIDS, and chair of the City of Vancouver Advisory Committee on Diversity Issues.

Holtzman is a past executive director of A Loving Spoonful, which provides food, nutritional support and counselling to people living with HIV/AIDS.

At Monday’s court hearing, a letter was also delivered to the Crown by lawyer Don Morrison, the former BC police complaints commissioner who acts for the strata property where Regier and Holtzman live.

The letter, from Fern Jeffries, strata president and co-chair of the False Creek Residents Association, asks that the Bassi brothers also be charged with trespassing and mischief.

Jeffries wants the strata corporation and residents association to be allowed to make victim impact statements to the court.

Further, she suggests that, if convicted, the brothers do service work including cleaning the condo building and doing Pride parade cleanup.

“It is very important to us that the court send a clear message that will deter others from this kind of desecration and violence in our neighbourhood,” she writes.

The Bassi brothers were arrested without incident on June 30 at their Richmond home.

They have been released from jail and must abide by a number of court-imposed conditions.