We are deeply saddened by the attack in Lafayette this past Sunday. It is reprehensible that four individuals can be harassed and attacked in a public space, but we know that this is a situation that is all too familiar to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
“All individuals, including all LGBT people, have the right to be safe and free from harassment and violence. To be attacked in a movie theater surrounded by families only adds to the severity of this attack. We are contacting the District Attorney, the US Department of Justice, and the FBI to make sure that the case is being handled with the utmost concern and attention,” said SarahJane Brady, Managing Director of Forum For Equality.
As we monitor this situation, we will work to ensure that the District Attorney and law enforcement officials apply the law justly and appropriately. In 1997, Forum For Equality worked to enact a state hate crimes law that creates enhanced penalties for crimes of violence clearly motivated by hate against an entire group, not just that individual victim. And since the passage of the James Byrd and Matthew Shepard Federal Hate Crimes legislation in 2009, Forum For Equality has worked with the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigations and LGBT organizations to educate the community on their legal rights and the impact that such violent acts has on the LGBT community.
“From the information we have received, the actions and attacks by Joseph W. Menard Jr. constitute that of a Hate Crime under the law, and we will work to ensure that it is recognized as such,” said Robert J. Wilson, Vice-Chair of Forum For Equality Acadiana Chapter, “Violence has been and continues to be a tool used to suppress the LGBT community and we will fight back against any oppression, by utilizing the laws that have been enacted to protect our constitutional rights.”