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Saying no to hate crime

Bronx Times

Responding to a recent spike in gay hate crimes Bronx electeds, activists and religious leaders have joined together with a message: Not in our borough.

They gathered at the Bronx County Building on Friday, June 2 to announce new outreach initiatives to combat negative attitudes and actions against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or those questioning their sexuality community.

The initiatives include a weekly community safety night starting June 21, monthly town hall meetings beginning in August, hosting LGBTQ panels, the 2013 Bronx LGBTQ Pride and Health Fair at Crotona Park, and self defense workshops.

Although the recent string of attacks against the LGBTQ community have been reported in Manhattan and Brooklyn, the Bronx is not exempt from these hate crimes, said Tym Moss, president of the new Bronx LGBTQ Community Center, adding that many people may be too afraid to report them.

‘here to stay’

“The Bronx LGBTQ Center (the “Center”) gathered here to announce a series of outreach initiatives to combat the anti-LGBTQ sentiment that begets incidents of hate violence highlighted by recent media reports of thirteen anti-gay attacks in Manhattan since May,” said Moss, “as well as let the community know that we are here, and we are here to stay.”

The Bronx Community Pride Center closed its doors last year over financial difficulties, largely stemming from a former executive director looting its funds.

Lisa Winters is now serving two to six years in state prison for embezzling $143,000 from the group. As part of the embezzlement scheme, she issued checks from Bronx Pride’s operating account to herself, and spending the money on such things as personal dog-walking services and a trip to Africa.

Diaz said the LGBT community is filled with hardworking individuals who should not have to live in fear.

‘closed minds’

“These are individuals who are being judged and harassed by close-minded criminals simply because of how they choose to live their lives,” Diaz said.

“Enough is enough. We need to put a stop to these senseless acts of violence against our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community,” he continued. “We need to educate our communities with outreach programs like the ones being launched by the Bronx LGBTQ Center. The Bronx continues to be a partner in the fight for the human rights of our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community.”

Serrano agreed.

“The LGBT community consists of vibrant, talented and hardworking individuals who are our neighbors, our friends, and our family members,” Serrano said. “These individuals should be celebrated and respected like all members of our community. It is extremely unfortunate that violent hate crimes targeting the LGBT community still occur. We must continue to work together to prevent and discourage hate crimes and create a safe environment for all members of society regardless of sexual orientation.”

Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at ksanchez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394

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