Community leaders point to a rising tide of anti-gay hate crimes in Florida
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 17, 2009
Brandon Hensler, ACLU, (786) 363-2737 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Michael Vance, The Center, (407) 228-8272; Joe Saunders, Equality Florida (407) 497-4986; Mary Meeks, One Orlando (407) 497-0027.
ORLANDO, Fla. – The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Community Center of Central Florida, more commonly known as The Center, was vandalized on Sunday along with neighboring gay owned businesses. The Center was spray painted with a swastika and the words “Gay Pawer” while gay owned business Ritzy Rags was marked with “Die Fags”, “Go To Hell” and other homophobic slurs.
Community leaders, including representatives from Equality Florida, The Center, FL ACLU and One Orlando have come out to denounce the destruction of The Center’s property and are joined by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. Together they are calling for community attention to be brought on the rising tide of anti-gay hate crimes in Florida.
“A crime like this is more than just an act of vandalism”, said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “It's a hate crime that threatens our community’s diversity. I encourage our City to join together, celebrate our diversity and stand against these types of crimes."
The ACLU of Florida added, ““Despicable acts such as these are sobering reminders that we must continue toward equality for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered friends and neighbors,” said Joyce Hamilton Henry, ACLU of Florida Central Regional Director.
Orlando native and Equality Florida Field Director Joe Saunders agrees, “Florida’s Attorney General reports a 25% increase in anti-LGBT hate crimes in the past year and two thirds of those were the worst kinds of attacks - physical assault. That is by far the highest of any category.”
The Orlando Gay and Lesbian Community Center is still working to organize a community response to the attacks on Sunday. Michael Vance, Executive Director of The Center says he and his members are outraged by the vandalism. “This community knows us to be the visual, cultural and service center of Central Florida’s gay and transgender community. The messages of hate delivered on Sunday were not just sprayed on our walls and our doors, but etched onto the backs of our entire community.”
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