Justice postponed

I’m writing because I heard that Seth Winder’s trial for the murder of Richard Hernandez has been postponed again. I really don’t understand why.

Now consider this: Had it been me, a gay man, who had committed a terrible crime like this against a straight man, I bet you my life that I’d be on trial next week without any disruption or thought of postponement.

This is the justice system in the United States; just postpone their trial and let them walk away free, and forget about how this one person changed so many people’s lives.

It’s a sad and very hurtful chain of events to know that after almost two years of this circus, the people in Richard’s life can’t rest in peace either. At a certain point, you begin to feel that maybe we  should be judge and jury, and then this whole thing would be put to rest — including Seth Winder.

Rudy Araiza

Italy becoming unsafe

Dear friends: We would like to raise your attention on the recent increase of homophobia in Italy.

Every day, we are seeing a growing number of hate crimes being committed against people because of their sexual orientation and their gender identity. In the last two months, Arcigay recorded an exponential number of cases all over the country of lesbian and gay people and couples being threatened, assaulted or exposed to public ridicule just because they were walking hand in hand, kissing or standing outside LGBT bars.

Recently, in Ostia, a seaside town near Rome, a gay couple was forced out of a beach resort after other people complained that they were kissing. In Milan, in the last month alone, our local branch recorded five assaults on gay people who were attacked and beaten only because they were standing outside LGBT bars or public spaces where they meet.

In two other circumstances, a homosexual couple in Torre del Lago in Tuscany and another one in Cagliari in Sardinia were just kissing on the beach and were targeted. Passers-by threatened to call the police if they didn’t stop. In another incident, two young gay people were assaulted and beaten outside a gay bar in Pesaro in an attack that required medical treatment.

Together with the increasing homophobia, LGBT bars and pubs throughout the country are also systematically harassed with unreasonable controls and exposed to constant and obsessive audits by different authorities.

Outdoor venues where gay people usually meet are sifted by the local police or fenced or even closed down by local authorities, who use as a pretext that homosexual people meeting there are “immoral.”

For example, this has happened at the Piave Spresiano riverside in Padova, where the town’s mayor has agreed to create “groups of volunteers” to patrol the venue, and has said that homosexuals are sick; and on the Oglio a Soncino riverside in Cremona, where the police have been asked to raid the place; and again at two other beaches, in Gaeta in Latina and Ancona, where local authorities have installed fences and CCTV cameras to prevent gay encounters.

LGBT people in Italy are beginning to live in an intolerable climate of fear, reminiscent of a witch hunt. This is a country where not only the rights of LGBT couples are not recognized — despite a recent Constitutional Court ruling — but, more alarming, a country where the Parliament rejected a bill that contained measures to fight homophobia stating in writing that the very expression “sexual orientation” is in itself “ambiguous,” as it could include things like pedophilia, zoophilia, necrophilia and incest.

We ask for your help to raise these concerns with the Italian government and other institutions. Italy has never been a country where LGBT people have been treated equally, but now it is beginning to be even more unsafe for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people.

Maurizio Cecconi
Arcigay, International Affairs

Arcigay is Italy’s largest LGBT rights organization. Founded in 1985, the organization had more than 160,000 members as of 2007.


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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.