Thursday, December 18, 2008

Straight Man Dies in Gay Hate Crime

from The Progressive Puppy

Members of the LGBT community have long known that merely "acting gay" is enough to get a person killed. Sadly, it's a lesson being learned by straight men and women whose behavior occasionally deviates from the norm. A heterosexual New Yorker has just died from head injuries inflicted on him by three attackers who believed that he and his brother were gay. The two siblings from Ecuador had attended a church party in Long Island, and on their way home they stopped at a bar. When they left the bar, Jose and Romel Sucuzhanay were noticed by some men in a red sport utility vehicle. The brothers "may have been a bit tipsy as they walked home in the dead of night, arm-in-arm, leaning close to each other, a common tableau of men in Latino cultures, but one easily misinterpreted by the biased mind... Witnesses, the police said, heard some of what happened next. Three men came out of the car shouting at the brothers... Vulgarisms against Hispanics and gay men were heard by witnesses. One man approached Jose Sucuzhanay, 31, the owner of a real estate agency who has been in New York a decade, and broke a beer bottle over the back of his head. He went down hard." Police say that the driver of the vehicle swung an aluminum baseball bat at his head "as the three attackers continued kicking and punching him." The other brother, Romel Sucuzhanay, escaped with minor injuries and has been cooperating with detectives investigating the case.

From CNN: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she was "horrified to learn that anti-LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual) and anti-Latino slurs were used by one or more of the assailants, raising this event to the level of a hate crime." Quinn said she was in touch with the NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force. According to police, however, the attack has not been categorized as a hate crime. "This is a wake-up call and shows how far we still must come to address the devastating problem of hate crimes in our communities," said Diego Sucuzhanay, Jose's brother, in a written statement. "Only by exposing these crimes and working together will we be able to make a difference." Police are offering a $22,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the attack.

Although hate crimes against Latinos are not uncommon, it's likely that Jose Sucuzhanay would still be alive if he hadn't affectionately linked arms with his brother. That simple warm gesture was enough to make three anti-gay bigots want to kill him.

Here's the New York Times article

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