In Focus with Gerard Veldhoven
Shane Matheson will be sentenced June 12 for the horrific attack on Scott Jones, a gay man from New Glasgow. He pleaded guilty to attempted murder.
Many ask if this attack constitutes a hate crime? The answer is affirmative, even as the police and court authorities have been silent and have refused comments one way or another.
Matheson decided to not only harm Jones, but put an end to his life. Why? Well, one does not attack with the intent to kill just for something to do. There is a reason and in this case I am convinced, as are many others, including Mr. Jones, that this attack was motivated because of his sexual orientation.
Last fall in an interview with CBC television, I was asked if I am concerned about my safety as an activist and I answered that my work as an advocate for equality does not include concern for my safety, but to carry on with my belief that we are all entitled to be treated fairly and equally. However, some family members have expressed concern.
The other question asked was did I consider the attack on Jones as a hate crime. I replied that in my mind it was a clear case of an attack on the gay community. The attacks on gay men have doubled over the past few years. We hear daily reports from around the world about crimes against the LGBT community. We must ask why this is so?
For centuries gays have been marginalized, ignored and discriminated against and for the most part that continues today. History has not been kind to members of the gay community. Concentration camps during the Second World War were filled with thousands of gay men who were eventually put to death. We have become more vocal and this means we are heard by making our thoughts more public and we say, hey world, we are part of it all.
As a result, many of the world’s religion leaders have spoken out against us and so took the road of condemning instead of embracing. Because of this hatred and intolerance, homophobia continues to rear its ugly head and so attacks occur daily in Canada and around the World.
In Canada and other nations in the Western Hemisphere we have made important inroads with changes in the law that gives us protection and indeed puts us on equal footing with all others. Now we must focus on equal treatment and rid the world of hate crimes against anyone. Comments and information: email@example.com
Gerard Veldhoven is a former Amherst resident who is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears weekly in The Amherst News.