2 min

Gaybashing mars Queer Prom

Investigation stalled because witnesses won't cooperate

Vancouver police say an alleged gaybashing outside last month’s Queer Prom at the West End Community Centre isn’t being investigated as neither the victim nor the witnesses will cooperate with officers.

Vancouver Police Department (VPD) spokesperson Lindsey Houghton says officers are frustrated in their investigation of an attack on a straight woman who came to the defence of a gay male friend being taunted outside the Jun 27 youth dance.

The young woman was attacked by four other women who had been yelling “fag” at her friend, according to Gab Youth Services coordinator Lydia Luk, who arrived on the scene immediately.

Houghton characterizes the attack as hate motivated.

But, he says, as neither the victim nor the friend will make statements to police there is nothing investigators can do to move the case forward toward a potential prosecution.

“These types of incidents, especially when there’s hate bias, we especially want to conclude them,” Houghton says.

While he acknowledges victims and witnesses have the right to remain quiet and preserve their privacy, he says it does make preventing hate incidents frustrating for police.

The names of those involved have not been disclosed.

The incident happened at about 10:30 pm as the Queer Prom took place inside the community centre. Luk says she was inside when she heard there had been an incident outside.

She was told there had been a gaybashing.

Witnesses told her four drunk women in their late teens or early 20s had been hurling insults at a gay man outside the dance.

When the man’s straight female ally stood up to the women, they allegedly shoved her repeatedly.

Eventually, she fell to the ground where she was allegedly kicked.

“She had a few scrapes and bruises,” Houghton says.

Luk says the police were cooperative and understanding.

She says many of the youth at the dance were confused and in shock after the incident.

“Some of them were really upset and wanted to chase after the girls and beat them up,” Luk says.

“The important thing is not to fight hate with hate,” she adds.

Police have repeatedly encouraged the gay community to report gaybashings and work with officers to help catch their attackers.

There are currently two high-profile alleged gaybashing cases before the courts.

Michael Kandola, charged with aggravated assaulted on Jordan Smith on Davie St last September, has his preliminary hearing in Vancouver Provincial Court Aug 6-7.

Kandola had originally been charged with assault but the charge was upgraded to aggravated assault on a review of medical evidence.

Smith underwent surgery after the attack to have his jaw wired shut so it could heal. It was broken in three places.

He had been walking along Davie St hand-in-hand with another man when a group of four young men allegedly approached them, made homophobic remarks, then knocked Smith unconscious with a punch to the head, according to police.

Police say Smith fell to the ground at the corner of Davie and Hornby Sts.

Six months later, Ritchie Dowrey, 62, was allegedly sucker punched at the Fountainhead Pub on Davie St where he fell backwards and hit his head on the floor. He remains in hospital barely lucid.

Shawn Woodward is due in court Jul 30 for arraignment on charges of aggravated assault in connection with that incident.

The alleged gaybashing at the pub occurred Mar 13.

The suspect then left the bar and was pursued by other patrons who held him for police.

“He’s a faggot. He deserved it. I’m not a fag. The faggot touched me. He deserved it,” Woodward allegedly told witnesses after the incident.

However, the head of Vancouver police’s diversity policing section, Insp John de Haas, revealed at an anti-violence community forum May 2 that there may be “admissibility issues” with the evidence gathered so far in that case.