Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Canadian LGBQT Activist Beaten to Death

Photo credit:  The National Post

I sometimes paint Canada as some gay Shangri-la where every gay person enjoys an open life, free from any threat of harassment or physical harm.   While Canada is the world leader in LGBQT rights and acceptance, there are still instances of gay-bashing, harassment and discrimination.

While I might kiss my special guy in my own front yard  (where the neighbours might see!  Who cares!!!),  in our smallish, blue-collar city, I cannot imagine us ever walking hand-in hand in public or kissing each other at the airport arrivals area. 

Tragically, a prominent gay activist, Raymond Taavel, was killed Tuesday in what some are calling a hate crime.  Mr. Taavel left a gay bar in Halifax, Nova Scotia at 2:30 am and was killed in a vicious beating by a 32 year old paranoid schizophrenic.   The attacker had a history of violence and was out on a one-hour pass from the psychiatric institution where he lived.    The attacker had been in the gay bar just before the murder and had uttered gay slurs during the beating.

About 1,000 people attended a vigil in Halifax Tuesday night to mourn his loss.


  1. It's a scary world and we must always keep up our guard. I like to think of Canada as role-model for the U.S., a nation that America might be like someday if only we didn't have so many idiots here. I guess even role-models have their troubles.

    I feel so bad for this man's family and friends and the entire Halifax community, gay and straight. How terrible.

  2. It appears that this may have not been a hate crime but the case of someone who should not have been on pass from a psychiatric hospital. I don't think it tarnishes Canada's reputation for tolerance at all. However, I do have to wonder about there ability to judge who may be out on pass.

  3. What a sad story. The fact it was not a hate crime doesn't diminish the tragedy, but it does change the perspective.

    Regarding your point about comfort at being yourself in your community, I think anyone can relate to those issues. I live in a very progressive part of the US, but its not as if bigotry and prejudice doesn't exist.

    A sad post but one that is worth reading. My partner will be going to see the Laramie Project later this weekend so such topics are very much on my mind at the moment.

    1. BosGuy, you are so right, it doesn't diminish the tragedy. Maybe it is just me, but I feel better knowing that it wasn't someone who was killing only because that person was like me. Yes, there will always be bigotry, I grew up in S.Calif in a very diverse neighborhood. Dated an african american girl in high school. Imagine how shocked I was when I moved to the american south in 1969 as a teenager and had my first exposure! Things ARE so much better now. Because of my recent journey, I like to focus on those positive improvements. There are too many who will point out the negatives to me. We will never have a perfect world. But I believe we shoul cherish those perfect moments that do come along. In this case, it was the collective comfort those people gave to each other.

  4. Thanks for all the thoughtful comments! Yes, there will be an inquiry into why a person with such a history of violence was released on a day pass.

    While it may not be completely a hate crime, I wondered why the alleged attacker, upon release from his psychiatric hospital, went straight to a gay bar. (the report said that he went inside the bar) It made me think that the attacker himself was gay, closeted or otherwise.

  5. Yes, I agree the issue here is far more the bad judgment on the part of those who were in charge of caring for the murderer; not only the pass, but that he was allowed to go a bar where alcohol could easily react badly with the medications I assume he was on.

  6. Canadians hate this concept: often Yanks don't really see much difference really between the two countries. Most Canuks I know (including my distant relations) like to see the country as something Different and Innocent. Neither seem true - this story illustrates the (alas sad) thing we have in common.

    1. "Neither seem true." Oh, Dr. Spo! Them's fighting words!! I'm not sure about the "innocent" part but Canada is worlds apart from the USA; vastly different.

      Items such as our social safety net, health care system and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms immeasurably improve the lives of ordinary Canadians in a way that Americans cannot imagine unless they've lived here.


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