The leader of a local right-wing group claims in a podcast that gay people are not the targets of violence and that actual cases of anti-gay violence don’t exist.
Pointing to one case of a young adult in Missoula who made up the story of being attacked because he was gay, Montana birther Jeff Laszloffy tells us (clip) “these false claims are becoming all too frequent because actual cases don’t exist”:
The notion that it does comes from repeated claims by groups like the Montana Human Rights Network. The reason this latest case got so much publicity was that the promoters of anti-gay discrimination ordinances thought that they finally had an actual case that they could point to. (clip)
Laszloffy, head of the far-right Montana Family Foundation, wants us to believe that non-profit organizations are ginning up fake claims of anti-gay violence in Missoula to to pass a non-discrimination ordinance in Helena.
He points to two other cases of anti-gay violence in Montana that he says were made up.
Though Laszloffy declines to cite his sources, presumably he means the 2001 case of the Carroll College student who,
was hit in the head with a bottle, knocked unconscious and further beaten, according to a report filed by the student with school administrators. The words “Die Fag” were written on his body, and the student later required surgery because of the cuts on his eye.
The 2001 Helena IR report on this case is pasted below the fold.
He claims that police believed that a lesbian couple in Missoula actually set their own house on fire. The couple was forced to escape through a window with their infant son.
Laszloffy presents no evidence to back up his statement that these people committed crimes by making false reports to police. Instead, he says we should be suspicious of them because they left the state after the attacks. However, as the Helena IR reports, the Carroll student left because he feared for his safety, “fearing for his safety, he withdrew from Carroll and returned to his Spokane-area home.” And in the case of the Missoula couple, the prosecutor, a Missoula County Attorney, found no evidence to back up the claims of those who said that they had made up their story.
Here’s where his remarks really go south. Laszloffy says that the Helena non-discrimination ordinance is not to protect people who are gay but rather to “put churches and those who oppose homosexuality on religious grounds at risk for harassment.” He says that, “The gay community is now pushing those in the faith community not only to accept what they see as sin, but to participate in it as well.”
Back in Montana on Planet Earth, people who are gay can be denied housing and employment, fired, or kicked out of establishments — all because of their sexual orientation. Religion is a protected class by both bias-crime laws and non-discrimination laws in Montana. This means laws already protect people from being discriminated against because of their faith. And if a religious person was attacked in a bias-based crime, the assailant would receive a sentence enhancement.
Attack shocks students
By LAURA TODE, IR Staff Writer
Some question college’s silence after hate crime
Carroll College is a community that for years has been described as a family – safe, secure and quiet – but a recent attack on a gay student in his own dorm room has sent shock waves of fear through the school and shattered the peace that once marked the campus.
Thursday, students and staff were informed of the attack, which occurred on Jan. 17 in one of the campus residence halls that is also home to several of Carroll’s retired priests. The student just returned from the shower to his room at 1:30 a.m. when he was hit in the head with a bottle, knocked unconscious and further beaten, according to a report filed by the student with school administrators. The words “Die Fag” were written on his body, and the student later required surgery because of the cuts on his eye.
Several days later, fearing for his safety, he withdrew from Carroll and returned to his Spokane-area home. He was an openly gay senior studying biology hoping to graduate this spring.
Some 200 students and faculty attended an open forum held at the school Thursday night where they were given the opportunity to comment on the incident and ask questions of administration. Much of the discussion surrounded campus security, and many students questioned the decision by Bob Pastoor, vice president of student affairs, to not involve the Helena City Police Department until the student had been gone from the campus almost 10 days.
“Would you have ever told us?” one student asked during the open forum. “We deserve the right to know this happened.”
“Until this time it was not my intention to share this information with the community at the student’s request,” Pastoor told students at the forum “If an error has been made it has been mine.”
Prior to Friday, security on Carroll’s campus consisted basically of a part-time student-manned security desk in each of the residence halls. Pastoor announced at the open forum that three security guards would be hired to patrol the campus full-time, and that the college intended to do a campus-wide security audit.
Several students brought up multiple alleged violent crimes that have occurred on campus in recent years that the students believed went unreported. Pastoor’s response was to assure the students that administrators aggressively pursue any crime reported, but that many go unreported on campus.
Of the 150-200 disciplinary actions Carroll’s administration deals with on average each year, Pastoor said most concern minor crimes like minors in possession of alcohol and drugs and the police are seldom involved. In the case of the few violent crimes Pastoor remembers, the police were not called because he said the victims did not want a police investigation. Pastoor said that most violent crimes that went unreported in recent years were rapes or acquaintance rapes.
“Except for the most severe cases, sexual assaults are always handled by the college review board,” he said.
Pastoor said the policy of the school has always been to encourage the victim to call the police in every instance, but it is not the policy of the school to report to the police every violent crime. A student at the forum asked Pastoor to review administration protocol and consider involving police sooner rather than later in the occurrence of violence on campus.
“Would it be possible to have a policy that the college initiates the call to police when these things happen?” he pleaded.
According to the Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act of 1990, Carroll College, and all other colleges nationwide, are required to keep and publish on-campus crime statistics. Carroll’s record is unblemished except in the area of alcohol and drug violations. The reason is because the reporting of violent crimes is based on law enforcement arrest records, Pastoor said. No students have been arrested for violent crimes like assault or rape, because the incidents were handled through the school’s disciplinary board of review.
Helena Police Chief Troy McGee said the Helena Police Department has a solid working relationship with Carroll and has collaborated with the college in several investigations. McGee said if the police were called by the school to investigate a violent crime they would, but it would be difficult to complete without cooperation from the victim “In the end it is all up to the victim,” he added.
The Jan. 17 attack is under investigation by the Helena Police Department at the request of the college, McGee said, and detectives have contacted the victim who has declined to file a criminal report. Anyone with information about this crime is encouraged to call Crimestoppers at 443-2000 or the Helena Police Department at 442-3233.