Pennsylvania Allows LGBTQ Folks To File Complaints Of Discrimination But Not Hate Crimes

Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission added sexual orientation and gender identity to its list of protected groups.

That action now allows people to file complaints to the State of Pennsylvania regarding incidents of LGBTQ discrimination. The commission investigates complaints of discrimination in areas of education, housing, employment and public accommodations.

Before the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity, if LGBTQ folks felt they had been discriminated against, their own recourse was to file a complaint with their local municipality IF the area they lived in barred such discrimination. According to Equality Pennsylvania, only 51 of the Keystone State’s 2,562 municipalities have laws that protect LGBTQ citizens.

What the change does not do, however, is add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s hate crime statute.

So, if LGBTQ folks face discrimination in a restaurant or hotel, you can file a complaint. But if you are a victim of violent assault for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, the perpetrator can be arrested but there will be no hate crime attached unless you are in one of the cities or local municipalities that have added sexual orientation or gender identity to their hate crime statute.

This wasn’t always the case.

Back in 2002, the Pennsylvania state legislature added LGBTQ folks to the hate crimes law. In doing so, Pennsylvania became the 5th state to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks.

But two years later, when anti-gay protesters were arrested at a gay-rights event for preaching via bullhorn and charged with a hate crime, concerns were raised about misuse of the statute.

Eventually, in 2007, a Commonwealth court struck down the addition to the hate crimes law saying the legislature had surreptitiously used an unrelated agriculture bill to make the change.

In 2008, the state Supreme Court upheld that ruling and LGBTQ folks were once again left without hate crime protections statewide.

Since then, lawmakers have tried to update the hate crime statute but to no avail.

Some cities enacted their own hate crime legislation like Philadelphia in the aftermath of a vicious attack on a gay couple in the Center City area of Philly in 2014 which left one of the victims with a shattered jaw.

Currently, Pennsylvania’s hate crime laws protect folks from discrimination due to color, religion, race, and national origin.

What do you think, readers? Does it make sense to protect LGBTQ people in the public accommodations arena but not classify a violent assault as a hate crime?

(h/t Philly.com)

Family Of Gay Student Found Bloodied By Railroad Tracks Say He Was Attacked

Investigation into 22-year-old Aaron Salazar who was found gravely wounded and unconscious beside Amtrak railroads last May is ongoing, but Amtrak police, who have jurisdiction over the case, have already ruled out criminal activity.

"The investigation remains open, pending any new information or the opportunity to interview Mr. Salazar," read a statement from Amtrak police.

In fact, Amtrak police have asserted that Salazar may have jumped as a suicide attempt, but many close to him have strongly objected to that idea and called the allegation a “smear campaign to sweep Aaron’s story under the rug.”

That said, local politicians think there’s more going on here, according to the Sierra Sun.

“Aaron is a person of color who also identifies as gay, and his injuries suggest that this incident may have been a hate crime against him during an Amtrak layover in Truckee, California,” read a letter by Oregon’s Congressional delegation.

The letter was signed by Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Representatives Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader, Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici

In addition, an additional letter signed by Sen. Mazie Hirono and Sen. Brian Schatz and Representatives Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard stated:

"While the Hawai'i Congressional District respects the investigation process, we expect that Amtrak will conduct a thorough investigation and provide us and the Salazar family with a comprehensive and timely report of the events leading up to Mr. Salazar's injuries."

Salazar, who’s currently recuperating at the Craig Rehabilitation Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, is being watched over by family members who also feel that there’s more to the story.

"When asked about the train, he sadly cannot remember," Austin Sailas, Salazar's cousin, said on a GoFundMe page made to help pay Salazar’s medical fees. "With time and therapy he might be able to remember things on his own."

"Aaron has a long road ahead of him. We are very optimistic," added other cousin Sonia Trujillo, in a Facebook message.

Family members have shared that despite Aaron’s dodgy memory, he is showing signs of progress. He is no longer bedridden and instead is using a wheelchair. Plus, he is now able to eat solid food.

On top of creating that GoFundMe page, Salazar’s family has also created a petition requesting that the investigation be handed over to the FBI. You can click here to sign it.

h/t: Huffington Post, Sierra Sun

This Gay Couple From Belgium Could Use Some Loving Neighbors

Mauro Padovani, 46, and Tom Freeman, 59, have been dealing with harassment from their homophobic neighbors for over four years. But this week, things escalated and got extremely serious when both of them were left bloody and battered from an altercation with the couple. When a straight Bulgarian/Croatian couple moved into the neighborhood four years ago they immediately informed Padovani and Freeman that they “hate gays” according to Italian news outlet Genova Today. The gay couple, who lives in Belgium, has endured arguments, being punched, bricks being thrown at them, basically making their lives a living hell.

Padovani shared with Genova that the ‘neighbors’ instigated an argument when the woman spat on their window in the parking area. When Freeman went to confront her that is when things got worse. Padovani got out of the car with a steering wheel lock and the male neighbor took it from him and began hitting them with it. Freeman, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three years ago, suffered two crushed vertebrae while Padovani was left with a concussion.

Police finally intervened and the straight couple was arrested. Dutch news outlet HLN identified the woman as 21-year-old, Yesmina R. who has been ordered to stay away from the gay couple for at least a month. She picked up her 1-year-old child and left her apartment immediately escorted by police. According to HLN, she appeared in court in 2015 with allegations of theft with violence. Her partner is in jail for assault and is awaiting trial. They are waiting to hear if this will be considered a hate crime which would give the assaulters the maximum penalty.

The battered couple took to Facebook to share images of their gruesome attack seeking support and comfort from friends and family. They quickly received kind wishes and their story has been gaining international attention.

h/t: Genova Today, HLN

Gay Porn Star Wesley Woods & His Friends Are Victims of Alleged Anti-Gay Hate Crime

Gay porn star Wesley Woods opened up on Friday about being part of an alleged anti-gay hate crime in West Hollywood of all places.

He spoke out about the incident on his Twitter page, where he claimed that three heterosexual white men attacked him and his best friend while they were walking down the sidewalk.

Wesley went into complete detail about it all in the one minute video that he posted on the social media platform. He has visible cuts and bruises from the alleged altercation as a result.  



"Hi, friends. Wesley Woods here... your friendly neighborhood ho," he started. "On Wednesday, August 8th, 2018, my best friend and I were brutally attacked by three straight, white, hetero men in West Hollywood, California."

"Why you might ask? For being gay. Now we weren't technically being gay at that exact moment, we were just walking down the sidewalk," he continued. "You see, being gay is the act... that's when you have a d**k in your a**. We just happened to be walking down the sidewalk, minding our own business."

He also spoke about how we are still not safe in 2018, and to be mindful of our surroundings no matter where we are. "I'm not posting this video for sympathy. I'm posting this video for awareness. You're not always safe in the places that you think you are. Always have someone next to you. Always be aware of your surroundings... and be prepared to fight for your life. I'm not saying that is a first means, and is always necessary, but in some cases it is."

He finished the video by saying "I wish you love, I wish you happiness and I hope that if you guys see me out this weekend baring my scars... you'll say hello."

Wesley also issued a caption with the video he posted that read as follows: "The enemy wants u to be afraid, they want to force you into their idea of normal. I am not, you aren’t, none of us are— “normal.” We live this life the best we can w/ what we’ve been given in hopes of being our true self. Do not hide, fight for your space to exist & ALWAYS be YOU."


Missouri Man Charged with Hate Crime After Confused Fight at Nightclub

Allen M. Loftis faces charges after authorities say he assaulted three men at Shady Gators, a Missouri bar near Lake of the Ozarks, because he "believed the victims were homosexual."  He attacked the men on August 4th because he told one deputy that he “does not let gay stuff go on.”

This is the first time a hate crime was charged in the county. What were the other variables involved?  Here's the local KY3.com coverage.



Ahhh,  '80s rock and a wig.

The man, who was with two friends, told authorities he thought the attack might have occurred because of how he was dressed. The man was wearing the wig as well as a see-through half-shirt and leopard print pants.

One of the men tried to break up the fight, but court records said Loftis punched the man in the face, chipping his tooth and causing his lip to swell.

At some point, Loftis was asked to leave the bar, and the three friends went outside.

Outside the bar, Loftis allegedly punched another man in the face and neck. That same man told authorities he called 911.


“Allen stated he was not going to allow gay behavior going on around him and this is why he pulled the wig from (the victim),” court records noted. “Allen’s assaults were unprovoked and motivated because of his belief the victim was homosexual.”

Authorities also said Loftis “showed no remorse but instead attempted to justify his actions.”

- kansascity.com


Hate Crime:

a crime motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudice, typically one involving violence.

Loftis is charged with three felony counts of third-degree assault motivated by discrimination and a misdemeanor count of disturbing the peace, online court records say.

It all boils down to intent.  Allen Loftis had the wrong intent.  Now if he just hated the '80s clothes and not homosexuality, well he still would have been a prick, but it would not have been a hate crime.  But the fact is, he hated our lifestyle and took action based on that hatred.

h/t:  kansascity.com

Hate Crime Charges Added To Murder Of California Teen Blaze Bernstein

California Police say that the murder of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein is now a confirmed hate crime.

21-year-old Samuel Woodward is currently under investigation after being tied to the disappearance and death of former classmate Bernstein.

Bernstein was home in California while on Winter break from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The two allegedly arranged to meet on the night of Bernstein’s disappearance. His body was then later found in a park and police tied Woodword to the incident.

Now, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas says that homophobia and hate led to the murder, according to WSB-TV2.

A hate crime sentencing enhancement has been added to Woodward’s charge, but Rackauckas and Orange County police refuse to share the details of the evidence that led to this change.

According to ABC News, all Rackauckas was willing to share was that they looked through his cell phone, laptop, and social media. What they discovered was racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and homophobic.

"We have no room for this kind of hate in our society," Rackauckas told reporters in a statement.

"There's a lot there that just spews hatred towards a lot of different groups of people, basically every protected group," he added. "So it's hatred of many different groups of people. But the evidence of the motivation for this particular killing is we can show evidence that he killed him at least substantially because he was gay."

Rackauckas also would not address the earlier reported allegations that Woodword was connected to a neo-Nazi group. He instead asked anyone with any information showing such a link to report it to the authorities.

"There could be other charges filed as evidence develops," he said.

Samuel Woodward has pleaded not guilty to the murder and is currently being held on $5 million bail.

With these added hate crime charges, Woodward could be facing up to life in prison. His preliminary hearing is on August 22.

h/t: WSB-TV2, ABC News

Idaho Man Arrested For Hate Crime After Yelling 'Half-Breeds' & 'F*ggots' At Church Group

A group of church kids from Spokane, Washington, on a field trip to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, were accosted by a man identified as Richard Sovenski as they stopped for ice cream. 

A group of church kids from Spokane, Washington, on a field trip to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, were accosted by a man identified as Richard Sovenski as they stopped for ice cream. 

After hearing a guest preacher while traveling in Idaho, the youth group's leader, Jose Ceniceros, took the kids for ice cream at a nearby McDonalds.

Sovenski started yelling racial slurs and extreme profanity at the children as they prepared to leave, says Ceniceros.

Exiting the  restaurant, Sovenski allegedly punched Ceniceros and shoved him to the ground. Ceniceros began recording the incident with his phone at that point and shared the video with The Inlander who reported the incident.

“F*ck you, you f*cking half-breeds! Get the f*ck out of Idaho!” Sovenski is shown saying on video. 

“You got a f*cking problem, I’m your f*cking guy!” he adds. “I will f*ck you up in a f*cking heartbeat, you little f*ggot!”

At one point, one of the youth group can be heard saying, “That’s why I don’t come to Idaho,” to which Sovenski screams back, “Yeah! That’s why you don’t come to Idaho! We’re real f*cking men here, you bitch!”

Here's the video - Warning: VERY strong language.



The man accompanying Sovenski, who grabs his genitals at the end of the video, is apparently Sovenski's son.

Police arrested Sovenski on one count of misdemeanor battery and one felony count of malicious harassment under Idaho’s hate crime statute which reads: ‘It shall be unlawful for any person, maliciously and with the specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin.’

The local NBC affiliate reports that in interviews with investigators, Sovenski's wife says she was worried the children could have bumped into her as she'd recently undergone shoulder surgery.

For Sovenski's part, he told investigators that he didn't so much 'punch' Ceniceros as 'pushed' him and that the church youth leader must have "tripped over his own feet."

Sovenski said he used the strong language to "get the upper hand" in the argument, and believed the comments would "get under their skin."

(h/t The Inlander)

A Crowd of Over a Thousand Shouts Insults and Jeers as Gay Men Are Publicly Beaten in Indonesia

More than a thousand people crowded the courtyard of a mosque in Indonesia’s Aceh province on Tuesday, jeering and shouting insults as two young men, 20 and 23, were publicly flogged over 80 times for having consensual gay sex.

Aceh is the only province in Indonesia to practice Shariah law; this is the first public caning for the crime of homosexuality there.

Five robed and hooded figures doled out the punishment as the young men winced and cried out in pain. Many spectators took photos and videos on their mobile devices.

The young men were sentenced to 85 lashings last week (100 is the maximum); they were arrested in March. Authorities (vigilantes) had suspected them of being gay, then raided a hotel room they rented and found them having sex.

This public flogging had a significantly higher turnout than usual, because people wanted to witness the first-ever public caning for gay sex.

Sarojini Mutia Irfan, a female student, weighed in on the punishment:

"What they have done is like a virus that can harm people's morale. This kind of public punishment is an attempt to stop the spread of the virus to other communities in Aceh.”

A total of 15 people were punished at the flogging, though the others received fewer lashings for crimes like showing affection outside of wedlock and selling alcohol. Lashings are also commonly served to women who wear tight clothes and people who don’t pray.

Homosexuality isn’t technically illegal in Indonesia outside of Aceh, yet the LGBTQ+ community has nevertheless felt violent discrimination throughout the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.

A banner was raised in Aceh’s capital, Banda Aceh, demanding that Shariah law upheld at whatever cost necessary, courtesy of the The Islamic Defenders Front.

A case before the country’s highest court is pushing to make gay sex and all sex out of wedlock illegal throughout Indonesia.

On Monday, 141 men were arrested in a raid on a gay sauna in Indonesia’s capital.

Human Rights Watch has publicly called for Indonesia’s President President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to denounced the “medieval” torture and human rights violations.

h/t: The Telegraph

h/t: Pink News

Heather Barron Arrested, Charged With Torturing and Murdering Anthony Avalos

The mother of Anthony Avalos was arrested today and charged with murdering the 10-year-old boy who came out as gay weeks before his violent death.

Heather Barron, 28, appeared in court today, but her arraignment has been postponed to Monday. She is being charged with murder, child abuse resulting in death and torture, says a spokesman with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Earlier this week, Barron’s boyfriend Kareem Leiva, 32, was arrested and charged with murder, torture and assault on a child causing death, according the D.A.’s office. Leiva is being medically treated for a laceration to the neck, and will be arraigned when he is medically cleared.

If convicted on all charges, Barron faces 22 years to life in prison; Leiva faces 32 years to life.

Weeks after telling people around him he “liked boys,” the 10-year-old boy was found unresponsive in his home covered in cigarette burns with severe head trauma. He died June 21.

According to Department of Children and Family Services Director Bobby Cagle, Anthony showed signs of being severely beaten and malnourished.

On Tuesday, The L.A. County Board of Supervisors called for a comprehensive review of Anthony’s case history.

Clearly, law enforcement and child welfare services failed Anthony Avalos.

h/t: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-anthony-avalos-arrest-20180629-story.html

For more on this case: http://instinctmagazine.com/post/10-year-old-boy-anthony-avalos-came-out-weeks-brutal-torture-and-death


Kareem Leiva Arrested, Charged With Murder of Anthony Avalos

On Wednesday, an arrest was made in the brutal killing of 10-year-old Anthony Avalos, a boy who had recently come out, saying he “liked boys” mere weeks before he was found covered in cigarette burns with severe head injuries. He died last Thursday.

32-year-old Kareem Leiva is in the custody of Southern California police, and he has been charged with murder. Leiva is reportedly a member of the violent gang MS-13, which has a branch in El Salvador that murders members if they are outed as gay.

Anthony’s uncle David Barron told The Los Angeles Times that Leiva was outspokenly homophobic, saying he was “uncomfortable just being around” gay men.

According to police, homophobia hasn’t yet been discussed as a motive in Avalos’ death.

Leiva is being held on a $2 million bail.

According to NBC News, Anthony told authorities in private interviews that he had been “locked up, beaten and not fed,” consistent information with the over 16 calls Child Protective Services had received about the boy and his siblings.

Still, Anthony remained in his mother’s care.

Following the arrest of Leiva, eight other children have been removed from the home.

"Nobody did anything. I don’t know why they thought that was OK for them to go back with their mother," said Karla Avalos, Anthony’s aunt. “What is wrong with the system?"

The boy was found unresponsive in his Lancaster home last week when his mother Heather Barron called police saying he had suffered a “fall.”

DCFS director Bobby Cagle told NBC News it was "premature" to describe Avalos's torture and death as a failure of the child welfare system. 

h/t: https://www.advocate.com/crime/2018/6/28/ms-13-gang-member-arrested-murder-10-year-old-gay-kid

h/t: https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/man-charged-killing-boy-10-who-reportedly-came-out-gay-n887221