“We join with others in the B.C. community in expressing our deepest sympathy and solidarity for the friends and family of Aaron Webster,” said Dale Akerstrom, an EGALE Board Member from Vancouver. “This was a brutal act of hatred, and a tragic reflection of the violence and animosity which some members of our society still harbour towards those who are gay.”
NDP MP Svend Robinson introduced a Private Member’s Bill yesterday that would include sexual orientation among the grounds protected by hate crimes legislation. In response, Justice Minister Anne McLellan said she would “consider” amending the Criminal Code, “if there is general agreement” by the provinces. EGALE expressed its support for Svend Robinson’s initiative.
“The inaction by the federal government on this issue is shameful,” said John Fisher, Executive Director of EGALE. “The Justice Minister said she would introduce amendments to protect lesbians and gays from hate crimes in 1999, following the gay-bashing of a student in Fredericton. She has done nothing. There is no need for ‘consultation.’ Violence, hatred and murder are unacceptable, full stop. This violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Canadians is implicitly condoned by the federal government as long as we are excluded from hate crimes legislation.”
“We call upon the federal government to act now to abolish the ‘homosexual panic’ defence, and extend hate propaganda provisions to include sexual orientation,” added Akerstrom. “We also support active liaison between police units across the country and our communities, including phone lines to report hate crimes. Greater inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered issues in educational curricula is also essential so that homophobic attitudes are not reinforced through the school system.”
For further information:
Dale Akerstrom, Board Member: 604-666-3605