Residents of the False Creek neighbourhood where two gay men were savagely attacked on June 12 say diversity education, communication and more police are key to personal safety.
The July 29 meeting was called in the wake of the attack on Peter Regier and David Holtzman.
The couple had returned home in June 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 then 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.
“A community was victimized,” Vancouver Police Department Chief Const Jim Chu told the meeting last week. “Hate crimes are a concern to us.”
Several attendees were alarmed by the attack. Some suggested it was connected to an Ultimate Fighting match at nearby GM Place (now Rogers Arena).
David Negrin attended the meeting on behalf of the Aquilini Group, which operates the arena. He committed to starting a respect-your-neighbours campaign during arena events.
Europa strata council member Tim Richards suggests community leaders need to work together. “How can we deal with people from outside our neighbourhoods? How do we solve the problem with hatred? We need help. We look to our leaders.”
Parks board member Constance Barnes stressed education.
“If you think you’re going to come down here and do some gaybashing or some racial slurs, it is not acceptable. We need to make that loud and clear,” Barnes says.
More police are needed, adds lesbian councillor Ellen Woodsworth.
And the Canucks, the Whitecaps and the BC Lions all need to engage in respect campaigns, she says.
The message they need to send is “we will not accept homophobia,” Woodsworth says. “It needs to be said loud and clear. The names of people with some power and authority need to be out there saying zero tolerance.”
Among other suggestions were anti-racism and anti-homophobia advertising on transit.
Sean Bickerton suggests the Ultimate Fighting Championship promoter appear in an ad in event brochures with a picture of him with gay men with the caption “These men are my friends.”
Chu took a shot at the court system in dealing with repeat offenders. He says the city has 40 people police term “super chronics” and six referred to as “ludicrous chronics.”
Parminder Singh Peter Bassi, 30, is charged with two counts of assault causing bodily harm in connection with the assault on Holtzman and Regier, while his brother Ravinder Robbie Bassi, 27, is charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm.
Some suggested concerned community members attend court for every alleged gaybasher’s appearance, so the judge knows the community is concerned.
“If people go to the trials, the sentencings, the courts will take this more seriously,” Chu says.