WEBSTER SUSPECT IN COURT
The 19-year-old Burnaby youth charged with killing Aaron Webster might have to face his charge as an adult.
The youth, who cannot be named under the Young Offenders Act because he was 17 at the time of the offence, appeared in Vancouver youth court Jun 16 for confirmation that psychiatric and other assessments had been completed. Next month he’ll be back in court for a hearing on whether or not to raise him to adult court to face a manslaughter charge.
The stocky, well-dressed youth stood quietly beside his lawyer while his case was discussed. Once the brief appearance was over, he quickly left the courthouse, along with his lawyer and several family members. Prosecutor Lance Bernard later said he did not know if charges would be laid against others in the case.
Police have been working on the theory that a group of up to five men killed Webster in November 2001 by hitting him in the throat with a bat or pool cue near the gay cruising trails in Stanley Park. Not all the suspects were juveniles at the time of the murder.
While unable to comment on the prospect of further charges, Insp Dave Jones says the investigation is still “very much alive.”
The raise-to-adult-court hearing takes place Jul 29-30 at the youth court, 800 Hornby St, at 9:30 am.
– Jeremy Hainsworth
REVIEW SEX LAWS: BCCLA
Canada’s public-sex laws should be reviewed, the board of the BC Civil Liberties Association decided Jun 16. The board joined a campaign launched by the Xtra newspapers to amend several laws that target traditional expressions of gay sexuality (see story, pg 11). Vancouver Sun columnist Ian Mulgrew also endorsed the amendments Jun 11. And the Montreal Mirror has climbed aboard, too.
The BCCLA motion “supports the repeal or reformulation of sexual morality offences in the Criminal Code to enhance the individual autonomy of adults to engage in consensual sexual activity subject to the overriding public interest in not being exposed to such acts without consent.”
COURT PENALIZES JUBRAN
First the BC Supreme Court ruled that Azmi Jubran wasn’t discriminated against; now it’s making him pay for the ruling.
Jubran won this year’s Xtra West Straight Ally award after he took his North Vancouver high school to court for failing to provide a homophobia-free learning environment. Though Jubran is straight, his schoolmates hurled homophobic slurs at him, and physically assaulted him, for several years. So Jubran filed a complaint in 1996-and the BC Human Rights Tribunal found in his favour, and told the school it should have done a better job. But the school board asked for a judicial review and, earlier this year, the BC Supreme Court ruled that Jubran could not have been the target of homophobic harassment, after all, because he’s not gay.
Now, the court has ordered Jubran to pay for the costs of the hearing. That means he owes his old school $7,500, and he doesn’t know how he’s going to pay. “I don’t have that kind of money,” he says. But he won’t give up the fight. The issue of homophobia and bullying is too important, Jubran explains. “I was done wrong. I’m pursuing this for the sake of myself and for the students who are still dealing with this problem.” Jubran has already filed his papers to appeal the court’s decision. He is still waiting for a reply.
Cheques can be sent to Azmi Jubran care of the Xtra West office at 501-1033 Davie St, Vancouver, BC, V6E 1M7
WEST END STABBING
Police arrested a gay man in the 1100 block of Barclay St on Jun 19 after he allegedly stabbed his sex partner a number of times. Though details are still sketchy as Xtra West goes to press, it seems the two men had met for sex at least once prior to the stabbing. Both men were injured in the stabbing and treated in hospital. Insp Bob Meanley, of the Vancouver Police Department, says the primary victim’s injuries were life-threatening, but the man is now in stable condition and expected to be released from the hospital any day. So far, no charges have been laid in the incident but Meanley says he expects some will be laid soon. Neither man’s identity is public at this time.
4 AM BARS DELAYED
As Xtra West went to press, Vancouver council admitted that it’s going to be a little late extending bar hours this summer. The later closing time was supposed to start its trial run this weekend, in time for the Jul 1 holiday. But councillor Raymond Louie told CBC Radio Jun 24 that that timeline may have been a little too optimistic. City staff need an extra week to put the plan in place, Louie said, denying that staff have been dragging their feet. It just takes time to coordinate this kind of change, he explained, putting some of the blame on the provincial government. Vancouver bars should be able to start staying open later on weekends in time for the Jul 4 long weekend, Louie promised.
PRIDE DINNER SUCCESS
This year’s Pride dinner sold out, as 280 people joined the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) and local gay and gay-friendly dignitaries to help ease the VPS’ debt and sample the food. “It was absolutely delightful,” says Gordon Fraser, from the VPS board of directors. “The soup was hot, the antipasto was fresh and there was no limp lettuce.” Though Fraser couldn’t give Xtra West a final tally on the dinner’s proceeds, he estimates it raised about $15,000 after expenses. That brings the VPS another step closer to paying off its debt, which now stands at just under $80,000. “We still need help,” Fraser says, urging community members to buy VPS memberships if they haven’t already.
C-250 VOTE THIS FALL
Parliament rose for its summer break Jun 13, leaving MP Svend Robinson’s bill in limbo. Bill C-250 is seeking to add protection for gays and lesbians to the Criminal Code section on hate propaganda. The summer break means a final vote on the bill won’t take place until this fall when the house resumes. But it won’t go back to square one; debate will pick up on the bill where it left off.
NEW HOME FOR CENTRE?
If all goes well, the Centre may soon be moving into its own heritage house in the Mole Hill development on Pendrell St. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to explore,” says the Centre’s director Donna Wilson. The city has put out a request for proposals, urging non-profit groups to apply to lease Watson House for a nominal fee in exchange for completing its renovations and operating it once it’s ready. Wilson says the Centre is “definitely exploring the request,” but cautions that it’s way too early to start packing any boxes. First of all, the Centre would have to find a way to make the house accessible, she says. Moreover, operating a house is a complicated undertaking and the Centre is still in the early stages of exploring the possibility and preparing an application. But “we are very interested,” she says. A spokesperson for the city’s real estate department says she can’t comment on any of the contenders’ chances until all the applications are in. The deadline to apply is Jul 31.
WEBSTER SUSPECT IN COURT