US shaken by sudden surge of violence against gay people
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For Alan Bounville it has felt like a lonely protest. For 16 days he has held a vigil outside the campaign office of Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York senator, holding a sign calling for equal civil rights for gay people.
The 33-year-old New Yorker has suffered the stares of strangers, been ignored by the political target of his demonstration, and endured the harsh cold of sleeping overnight outside on a hard Manhattan pavement. But a series of brutal attacks on young gay men, a number of tragic suicides and alarming anti-gay public statements by Republican politicians have led Bounville to feel he has no choice. "Our people are dying. So I am just going to sit and protest. That is my job," Bounville said.
Liberal America has looked on aghast as virulent homophobic prejudice seems to have returned to its streets and cities. Most remarkable of all, much of it seems to be centered on the New York region, usually tolerant in its politics and not seen as hostile to homosexuals living openly. But it was just a few miles away from Bounville's protest in the Bronx that a group of suspected gang members brutally beat and tortured a 30-year-old gay man and several other youths who had been associated with him. The details of the assault, for which 10 people have been arrested, horrified New Yorkers. The gay victim was kidnapped, beaten, whipped and burned.
The shocking crime was just one of a series of incidents that have hit the city. Others have even occurred in the heart of New York's vibrant gay scene. In the Chelsea neighborhood, which has a large gay population, a group of men hugging each other goodbye after a night out were punched and had a rubbish bin thrown at them. Meanwhile in the famous Stonewall Inn, where the modern gay rights movement was founded after a police raid in 1969, a customer was beaten and robbed by men who hurled homophobic insults at him.
Sources: Observer (UK)
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