Mayor condemns attack on Vancouver gay couple
Published Monday, June 14, 2010 2:32PM PDT
Vancouver's mayor is condemning an attack against a gay couple outside of their home Saturday night.
The men arrived at their apartment on Keefer Street after attending a concert around 10:45 p.m. to witness two people urinating on the side of the building.
David Holezman said he and his partner were viciously beaten after telling them to stop.
"It was a sadistic, brutal attack," he told CTV News. "I went passive immediately. Someone was standing on my back, pounding on the back of my head. I have bite marks. He bit me."
Peter Regier said their assailants yelled homophobic slurs during the incident.
"There was a stream of really offensive language coming at us, being gay, fags, and other words I don't want to repeat," he said.
"It was offensive and hurtful, very disturbing. We're very rattled right now."
Regier was taken to hospital and given stitches and treated for multiple bruises. His partner was treated for his injuries at the scene by BC Ambulance. No arrests have been made.
On Monday morning, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said he was troubled and saddened by "what clearly appears to be an incident of physical and verbal aggression against citizens for who they are."
"Vancouver is a wonderfully diverse city and there is zero tolerance for any action or behaviour that discriminates or harms people for their beliefs, ethnicity or sexuality. It is completely unacceptable."
The victims want to see their attackers prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
"These guys showed us on Saturday night what they can do with their bare fists in the dark. Now it's time for the police to show us and the community what they can do in responding to this type of violence in our neighbourhood and the community," Regier said.
"We think that this was a hate crime for a number of reasons."
Vancouver police say they are taking the investigation very seriously.
"Our hate crime investigator will look to see if there are any elements that will fit hate crime legislation and if there are aspects that fit their mandate," Const. Lindsey Houghton said.
Both suspects are described as East Indian men in their 20s, around six-feet-tall with short black hair. Both men were wearing jeans and t-shirts.
In Canada, there are no specific hate crime charges that are applied to simple assault. It is an aggravating factor considered during sentencing.
Statistics Canada said Monday police across Canada are reporting a big jump in hate crimes, with gay men being targeted more often and becoming victims of the most violent incidents.
Using data from the national Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, which assembles information on hate crimes as defined in the Criminal Code "that have been reported to, and substantiated by, police services," the agency said police logged 1,036 hate crimes in 2008, up 35 per cent from 2007.
The agency says all three major categories of hate crime increased in 2008, but the largest increase was among crimes motivated by sexual orientation, which more than doubled from 2007 to 2008.
Vancouver and Hamilton reported the highest rates (6.3 hate crimes per 100,000 population) among Canada's 10 largest census cities.
Hate crimes almost doubled in Vancouver from 2007 to 2008, a jump of 30 to 57. It also saw double the number of suspects charged, from 10 to 18.
Const. Houghton said the numbers may be more indicative of reporting practices than prevalence levels. He cites an increase in specialized police hate crime units, coupled with victim assistance programs, neighbourhood LGBT liaisons and neighbourhood policing officers, for the increase in reporting.
"We think that by going out and liaising with them, working with those communities has increased reporting," he said. "We've been very proactive. Even one hate crime is too many."
In April, A B.C. Supreme Court judge found a Vancouver man guilty of a hate crime for breaking a gay man's jaw during a fight in Vancouver's West End in 2008.
Michael Kandola was sentenced to 17 months in prison for assaulting Jordan Smith while he was walking down the street holding hands with his boyfriend.
Craig Maynard, co-chair of the board of directors for queer resource centre Qmunity, said the ruling was a "substantial victory" for the gay community.
"Members of our community have been and can be subject to assault, but it hasn't been seen in recent history that we've been able to prove these assaults as hate crime," Maynard told ctvbc.ca.
"This is a welcome protection for our community."