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The message has to be clear

['Refocus with Gerard Veldhoven']
['Refocus with Gerard Veldhoven']

Judges and lawyers must be aware of increased violence against LGBTQ+ citizens

A recent case in Nova Scotia was rendered by a provincial court Judge as “homophobic” conduct and Judge Gregory Lenehan said “it causes me great concern that such an attitude would be present in a young person in this day and age.”

The man appeared in court on charges of assault against Dr. William Winters and his partner, Jurii Senyshyn. Their property in Ketch Harbour was severely damaged with a motorcycle and there were threats of bodily harm against the couple because they are gay.

Jacob Flemming told police he would knock him out if he didn’t get out of his face. The judge, obviously surprised by these actions, clearly does not keep track of the increase in crimes against the LGBTQ+ community.

This type of assault is all too common in Canada and abroad. Most of us who propose equal treatment for all are constantly reminded that this is but a dream. Cases of abuse are a constant and we must be prepared for additional responses against the LGBTQ+ citizens, as well as the countless others who are systematically attacked.

Minorities are at risk, and new attackers are stimulated by those who are determined to lower themselves to commit these horrific crimes. The fact a sitting provincial court judge is not on target with this national and international situation is alarming. Our laws are in place to protect.

The courts must be aware of the increase in brutality that is far too common in our society.

The gay conversion therapy, which has been on the minds of many, is undergoing scrutiny in a manner not experienced before. Activists and concerned groups are taking this on as a serious threat to the well-being of gay Canadians.

As I have mentioned previously, our Federal Government views this as a mental health issue. I argued it is first and foremost a blatant discrimination issue that stands to do irreparable harm to a gay person’s health. We cannot let this continue and our governments, federally and provincially must act to ban this practice that can be mostly blamed through religious influence. It is viewed as a “sin,” therefore catch the “sinner” and turn a gay person into a healthy, straight being. This is not possible. The consequences are dire.

The fact that violence against members of the LGBTQ+ community is on the increase proves education must be at the forefront to deal with the countless incidents that occur daily. Police, lawyers, judges, teachers and our medical providers must be more aware and not see this as an effort by activists and others to merely seek attention. This is extremely serious and causes much hurt to those within the community.

In many instances, partners and children are affected by these attacks and also may lead some to suicidal tendencies. Our society seems oblivious to the fact so many LGBTQ+ members of the population have families. Many seem to take it for granted that they are single and without family members.

One must remember that according to the 2016 census, there are 72,880 same sex couples in Canada, 24,000 are legally married and 48,510 are common-law. We must also accept the fact that many have children, to the dismay and disapproval of most religious institutions.

Taking these stats into consideration, the tapestry of the family units in this country has changed dramatically.

In order to receive equal treatment within our society at large, our law makers must accommodate the changes and protect all who are the subject of confrontation. Our sexual orientation, our true gender identity and expression, and all other uniqueness we may possess, bar none, must be protected. The judge in Halifax opened his eyes, so let’s hope this is possible everywhere.

 Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears weekly in The News. Comments and information: lgbtconnectionsgv@gmail.com

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