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Vancouver rallies against gaybashings

Community demands court treat recent attack as a hate crime

UPDATE – 2:40pm Pacific: Pictures from today’s rally are starting to appear on Twitter. Check out this picture of a massive crowd, taken by Twitter user danudey: twitpic.com/2vx7t. More to come, including a report by Xtra West.

Outraged Vancouver queers are rallying on Sunday, in wake of Mar 13’s alleged gaybashing at The Fountainhead Pub which left a 62-year-old man in hospital with severe brain injuries.

Community members are urged to gather at 2pm on Sun, Apr 5 at Nelson Park on Thurlow St. The group will then march down Davie St to Davie and Denman.

Organizers want to send the message that violence has to end, and that gaybashings need to be treated as hate crimes.

Vancouver courts have heard five gaybashing trials in the last eight years. But the Crown has only sought a hate crime designation in one.

The sentencing provisions of Canada’s Criminal Code say a person convicted of any crime should get a stiffer sentence if their actions were demonstrably motivated by “bias, prejudice, or hate” against gay people.

Now two high-profile gaybashings have thrust the issue back into the spotlight.

But BC’s attorney general won’t order Crown counsel to seek hate crime designations for gaybashings.

“If anything, our prosecutors are accused of being too vigorous,” Wally Oppal told Xtra West Mar 2. “I’m the head of the prosecutors. If there’s any aggravating factor we will vigorously press for higher penalties,” he promises.

Vigorously? They haven’t thus far.

If anything, Crown counsel have been unbearably cautious when it comes to seeking hate crime designations in our cases.

Come out to the rally. Spread the word. Call on the attorney general to seek hate crime designations for gaybashings.

It’s time to stop the cycle of anti-gay violence. Enough is enough.

Check Xtra.ca after Sunday’s rally for coverage, including a video report.

Enough! Rally to Take Back OUR West End.
Sun, Apr 5.
Meet at 2 pm at Nelson Park on Thurlow St.
Check out and share the event on Facebook.