Rights & Liberties
2 min

Sentencing doesn’t fit the crime in anti-gay attack: London queer group

Last week’s sentencing in a London, Ontario, anti-gay attack wasn’t tough enough, say anti-homophobia activists and one of the men who was assaulted.

On Sept 27, 2009, Erik Rozenski and his boyfriend
were holding hands as they walked home after a night out at the local gay bar.
They were attacked by two men who uttered homophobic slurs. Rozenski and his partner suffered scrapes and bruises.

Michael Gordon, 23, of Richmond Hill pleaded guilty last week and was given a suspended sentence with two years probation. The other man was not found.

In a note posted on Facebook, Rozenski suggested Gordon should have received jail time. “After all
the hard work many people do to stop hate crimes in our community, the
judicial system just comes along and wipes us off the board like a big
inconvenience,” wrote Rozenski. “Once again, the judicial system fails at bringing justice."

The London Free Press reported from the trial. The Crown Attorney asked for 60 days in jail on top of probation, but the judge opted for a lighter sentence, reports the Free Press:

"[Ontario Court Justice] John Getliffe
gave Gordon credit for his actions since the assault and his positive
pre-sentence report that indicated the people closest to him said it was
completely out of character to behave as he did. 

Getliffe
gave him the suspended sentence with conditions to not associate with the
victim and with LGBT organizations, to abstain from alcohol and not attend any
bars, and to take counselling for anger management, substance abuse and gender
sensitivity training.” (read more at the London Free Press)



Erik Rozenski at an anti-homophobia rally in London, Ontario, on Oct 8. (Ben Benedict photo) 
 

The London Homophobia-Biphobia-Transphobia
(HBT) Working Group slammed the court decision, in a statement on Monday, March 15: 

"If the assault was in no way motivated by
hate – as suggested by the judge’s decision not to designate the incident as a
hate crime prior to sentencing, why does part of Gordon’s probation involve
staying away from LGBT-identified locations throughout our city?” says the
statement.

"There appears to be a contradiction
between the case verdict and the sentence conditions that suggests Gordon may
still pose a risk to [queer] community members. How are we, as a community, to
make sense of this?”

The Free Press reports the court heard that Gordon was so drunk on the night of Sept 27 he doesn’t remember what happened.

"What about taking responsibility for one’s
actions?” asks the HBT Working Group. “Being excused of violent, negligent, or ill-advised behaviour because
we’ve had too many drinks establishes a problematic precedent with potentially
horrific consequences for all cases involving alcohol consumption."

The HBT Working Group stresses the importance of reporting hate-motivated assaults to police.  


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