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Canada: Prominent gay activist killed in apparent hate crime

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  1. Truly tragic. RIP Mr Taavel

  2. The light of your will and life shines on; although you have passed on. you will never die.

  3. Sincere sympathy for Raymond Taavel’s family, loved ones and friends.

    What a tragic loss.

    1. I’d also like to express my sympathy to Raymond’s family and friends.

  4. bobbing along 18 Apr 2012, 12:58am

    Raymond was a wonderful man and no one who ever met him would ever forget him. As for how he died, it remains to be seen if homophobia was behind it since the suspect has a history of serious mental illness.

    1. David Waite 18 Apr 2012, 1:36am

      Homophobia IS a mental illness and when it incites murder it is a serious case of mental illness. What part of the eyewitness account do you question? The only thing which “remains to be seen” is the accuracy of the report about what the witnesses say they heard. If Canadians really want to honor Raymond Taavel they will ensure that no solicitor gets away with excusing his murder as something other than homocidal homophobia.

      1. Erm, this is terrible, but true schizophrenia (for example) can manifest itself like this…he’s not well. If he’s been granted a day pass, that infers that the rest of the time he’s not allowed out!

        He can’t be expected to be reasonable or rational.

        In my opinion, I don’t see this as homophobia and I don’t think it’s a hate crime.

        What it IS is a product OF homophobia – his ill mind has latched on to ideas of prejudice that exist and this is the result.

        1. (The people who let him out are at fault. They facilitated this murder.)

        2. David Myers 19 Apr 2012, 7:06am

          Regardless of your excuses for him because of his mental history. His actions are still those of a homophobe and a murderer. HIs schizophrenia is not a blank check to excuse any and all acts of violence or hate. P.S. I have worked in mental health for fifteen years. His mental history is not a free pass for his bigotry and homophobia, and it is just possible it has nohing at all to do with his schizophrenia and a lot more to do with his acceptance of societal condemnation of gays and lesbians. It will be necessry to prove that his mental illness is responsible for his actions and not his everyday homophobia and hatred, as opposed to his actions due to his delusional mind sets.

          1. How do you not understand schizophrenia if you’ve worked in mental health for 15 years?


            Read that. If it IS schizophrenia that he has, then it IS an excuse.

            Of course it’s possible that if he was sane, he’d still be homophobic, but how exactly do you check that? Perhaps he’d be homophobic, but would never dream of hurting anyone? Think on it.

            I’m not saying he’s a lovely guy and we should let him off, I’m simply saying acknowledge the difference between someone who is VERY ill in the mind and commits this kind of crime, and someone who is compos mentis, but holds unacceptable beliefs.

      2. I don’t agree that homophobia is a mental illness. I have suffered from mental health problems and I find it offensive that you are comparing it with homophobia.

        1. David Waite 18 Apr 2012, 5:13pm

          You write as if all mental illness can be classified as a single thing. This is not so. The dictionary defines “phobia” as irrational fear, not rational fear. Any phobia is a form of mental illness because it has no rational basis. Racial phobias and nation (ethnic) phobias are also irrational, therefore a form of mental illness.

          Uncontrolled rage (berserkerism) is also a form of mental illness. I suffer from that one myself, and it has been a six+ decade fight for me. I go to bed with my illness every night and wake up with it every morning, aware each day that I am fortunate not to have ever killed in anger yet.

          I am sorry you are offended by the truth of my statements, but I do not apologize for telling the truth. You should never assume or presume that a statement about mental illness in others is somehow an attack on you or your illness.

          1. You’re technically right – but your assertion assumes that we use the word homophobia in the correct way.

            Homophobia isn’t the same as, say, claustrophobia. It is in its strict definition, but that’s not how it’s used in every day language.

            So when BennieM says homophobia isn’t a mental illness, he’s referring to homophobia as we most commonly see it – ignorance. And he’s right.

            Actual homophobia would have to fit the criteria on this page:


            But when we call someone homophobic, we often mean that they’re discriminating and being nasty with it.

            I am sorry you are offended by the truth of my statements, but I do not apologise for telling the truth.

          2. @ David Waite

            What about all the people who are indoctrinated by a religous upbringing and are homophobic because of it?

            Their homophobia cannot be described as a mental illness.

      3. Susan Weatherby 18 Apr 2012, 2:02pm

        Is there anything that says that the mentally ill cannot be homophobes as well?

        1. How would one tell?

        2. @ Susan

          Of course people who are mentally ill can be homophobes but homophobia is not a mental illness. People who are mentally ill may exhibit homophobia due to their illness but it’s not the homophobia itself that is the mental illness.

          By saying homophobia is a mental illness means that all homphobes are mentally ill and therefore not responsible for their homophobia – it gives them an excuse. Most of them are perfectly sane and just happen to be nasty bigots.

          If someone develops homophobic views because of a stricit religious upbringing, for example, then you cannot say that they are mentally ill.

  5. The time is coming for LGBT people to take to the streets and stop this madness of anti-gay Christian killing gays, we all know who is doing it. Organize and protest until this changes or it never will.

    1. This is a terrible event: as we have no way of knowing whether the violent psychiatric patient, who is the suspect, is or ever was motivated by Christianity, it’s probably best not to blur the issues till we know further.

      1. We do need to protect ourselves against religious groups though.

        Religion truly is poisonous and evil and murderous.

        1. Unquestionably. But that is (as yet) irrelevant to this tragic event.

          1. Agree with Rehan.

  6. Dr Robin Guthrie 18 Apr 2012, 1:36am

    If you find homophobia.

    It is guaranteed that a (…..) fill in the blanks religion will be behind it.

    “God of love” is the tag line they use to get the punters in.

    “Everlasting life” comes next, as they sell the snake oil to seal the deal.

    “Burning in Hell” is the threat for non-compliance.

    Good business model. Offer something, then offer an even better deal, then hit them with the leave and your screwed offer.

    1. David Waite 18 Apr 2012, 1:43am

      Well said. In fact, your description reminds me of unscrupulous porn web sites. On the Liberian mission station where I was partly raised, I watched my Dominionist missionary father pull this scam in every sermon.

    2. Well, yes and no: believe me I’m no apologist for organised religions, but Communist Russia and China were violently anti-religion and were equally savagely homophobic, so I think blaming religion alone is inaccurate.

      1. Yes, homophobic atheists would likely say that homosexuality is unnatural.

      2. Not that I want to blame religion either, but Communist Russia in the post-Stalin period was relatively apathetic to homosexuality. Conviction for sodomy laws required a third person to see actual penetration. It was more often treated as a mental illness, in that rather pseudo-scientific way Communism has. Which is pretty horrible, but there also was no real government push to round up homosexuals per se. They would only bring in a homosexual if they had some other reason to go for the person, and then homosexuality would be added to the charges used to oppress the person. These statements are based on personal observation and long conversations with Soviet gay men in the 80s. Please realize that at the time nearly every adult male in the Soviet Union had served in the military, and as a consequence of the rather stratified hazing system therein, had been raped and raped other men, or sought out a higher rank male lover as a protector. This was widespread knowledge.

        1. I would put the real source for the virulence of homophobic feelings to the fact that modern conceptions of masculinity tie it to compulsory heterosexuality. I don’t think we will ever defeat homophobia until popular consciousness no longer connects having sex with other men to not really being a “man.” It’s not impossible. In the ancient world, having sex with women was considered effeminate. Read George Chauncey’s Gay New York for a history of how doctors in the 19th and 20th century redefined masculinity and sexuality into what we deal with today.

  7. psychiatric patient out on a day pass … what do they not do it as supervised leave with a nurse//family like they do in the UK, they just let a person with mental health issues roam around the city completely freely? The institution needs to be looked at and any other issues concerning patient and public safety need to be addressed and fixed.

  8. A terrible thing to happen to anyone. My condolences to his family and friends.

  9. That is awful news :(

    I used to work at an ASDA when I was at uni and there was a mental health patient who used to come in and swear at gay and white people, shout faggot, etc. I rang the nearby mental health hospital and they sort of alluded that certain patients can become fixated on stuff like that.

    This guy shouldn’t have been allowed out – it’s terrible that this has happened. Part of the blame lies with whoever granted a day pass.I wouldn’t call it a hate crime if the guy has a history of violence…he’s not well.

    1. Homophobia is a mental illness itself. Most homophobic people are latently homosexual themselves and attack normal gay people out of jealousy or in an attempt to allay suspicious about their secret desires to have sex with members of the same gender. Organized religion is rife with homophobes just seething about happy gay people living the lives they want to live.

      1. Homophobia is not a mental illness. It’s not up for you to decide what is or isn’t a recognised illness; you can’t just make things up!

        It might be a front for latent homosexuality, or it might rooted in religious belief. It might be because the person doesn’t like the idea of same-sex sex! It’s all wrong, but it isn’t a mental illness.

        REAL mental health problems are awful – people judge mentally ill people without taking into account the complete lack of control over the problem that they have.

        1. Don’t buy into the conservative denialism. Homophobia is an irrational fear of homosexuals. Irrational fear (phobia) is a mental illness according to the DSM-IV and comes in many degrees as we see evidence of this in the article. Fears ranging from not publicly supporting gay people when you privately do to homicide, they run the spectrum but don’t let the right convince you otherwise- they only deny it because it is one of their biggest character flaws.

          1. I’m not buying into anything?

            If someone is *irrationally* scared of gay people, then their illness isn’t homophobia, it’s paranoia-related or something else.

            The homophobic people we mainly encounter are not mentally ill – they’re just ignorant. It is their ignorance that makes them ‘fear’ or oppose homosexuality.

          2. So then you say that homophobia is a ‘normal’ behavior? I don’t think you believe that but I do think we may be in disagreement over what a mental illness actually is. There are homophobia people that push all else aside in pursuit of their hatred of gay people, like an addiction can do to a person. It falls under the category of delusional phobias, a subclass of the larger group of irrational fears or phobias. But since this is being debated by others outside of you and I let’s just agree to disagree because we can both agree that neither of us are afflicted by it and therefore on the same side.

          3. I see what you’re saying, but working in the NHS I know that homophobia isn’t a mental health illness.

            An example: To me, religion isn’t normal behaviour, but I don’t think they’re mentally ill. Homophobic people whose opposition to gay people lies in their religion, aren’t ill, they’re just ignorant.

            Homophobia CAN be the product of another mental health illness, but no one is born, or develops ONLY homophobia. They develop bi-polar disorder, or schizophrenia, etc. Homophobia would be a symptom of that.

            Homophobia is the wrong word for it, as it implies something clinical, but it’s the only word we have, apart from bigotry… which IS better.

          4. @ Jakrabt

            If homophobia is a mental illnesses then all homophobes must be ill and therefore not responsible for their homophobia. I don’t agree. Most homophobes are perfectly sane and are just simply hateful bigots.

          5. True, homophobes are not raging foaming at the mouth lunatics (much as we would like to think) but reading both your comments I see that the three of us agree that it IS a pathological condition that can progress into disastrous ends. The word was only first penned in 1960s by a psychologist by the name of Weinberg describing hetero men’s fear that others may think they are gay. True that we have no other word to describe other than the nebulous term ‘bigot’. Also true that schizophrenics can manifest homosexuality during their illness. We also call ‘situational anxiety’ a mental illness, mild as it may be but we don’t generally treat it. Working in a psych ward during the 80s as a registered nurse I saw many cases of all forms of mental illness as you must have yourself, James. None of us will leave this conversation agreeing with the other so just give me my ‘predictable’ thumbs down vote and have a nice day =)

          6. The issue I have with what you’re saying, jakrabt, is that it doesn’t cover the forms of homophobia that aren’t related to a mental health conditions, i.e. the absolutely majority of homophobia, which is problematic for all the reasons that BennieM has explained.

            We use the word homophobia to mainly describe non-pathological opposition to gay people and you’re not really acknowledging that.

            Homophobia in its ‘true’ definition – an *irrational* fear of anything gay, with panic attacks and the like – must be incredibly rare, if not unheard of, and therefore irrelevant to this discussion.

          7. @Jakrabt

            So Fred Phelps & his whole family are mentally ill? No, they have all been indoctrinated and brought up to think the same bigoted views. Your “homophobia is a mental illness” view doesn’t explain the likes of the Phelps clan.

          8. And please don’t tell me what I agree with or not. You’ve obviously misunderstood my arguments. I’m not going to reply to you again. I’ve made my point and you chose to twist it. I won’t debate with people who do that.

          9. And I will not reply either since you are the mental health expert. Would not want to impede your ability to set others straight on your definition of homophobia and diagnosing of Westboro Church members.

          10. @Jakrabt

            I know I said I wouldn’t reply to you, but I have to ask – if homophobia is a mental illness, then how do you account for the whole Phelps family having the same, non-contagious illness? That includes the ones who married into it before anyone suggests a hereditary illness.

            If you class homophobia as a mental illness then racism must be a mental illness too. I don’t see anyone suggesting that.

            By claiming homphobia is a mental illness gives the homophobes an excuse for their bigotry.

            I have not claimed to be a mental health expert.

  10. I am disgusted at the people here saying homophobia is a mental illness. That is making an excuse for it. It’s bigotry, plain and simple. I have suffered from mental health problems and find it extremely offensive that mental illness is being linked to homophobia.

    1. By saying homophobia is a mental illness gives the bigots an excuse, as though they can’t help because they are mentally ill.

      1. they can’t help being bigots, I meant to write.

    2. Agreed.

      However, this murderer was clearly unwell and therefore it’s unfair to say this was a homophobic murder, in the sense that he didn’t have full capacity.

      1. So if it wasn’t a homophobic murder, if he killed this poor man simply because he happened across him rather than his sexuality, why are so many people here saying that homophobia is a mental illness? Yes, the murderer was mentally ill, and yes his mental illness was very likely the reason for his behaviour and actions, but that mental illness was not homophobia.

        1. You’re not following me – I’m agreeing with you!

          Homophobia was a manifestation of his mental health disease – as was the act of murdering him.

          1. Sorry, I see what you mean! I just feel so strongly about this and angry that quite a few people have said simply that homophobia is a mental illness as though it’s as straightforward as that, which it isn’t.

          2. I totally understand – you’ve made some really good points on this issue, too.

          3. Thanks, James! You’ve made very good points too – once I’ve read them properly, that is!

  11. Certain, but not all, mental illnesses can cause the sufferer to behave in strange, anti-social ways including shouting at strangers on the street or even hurting other people like this case here where this man was murdered. This anti-social behaviour may take the form of homophobic behaviour but homophobia itself is NOT a mental illness. There are plenty of perfectly sane people out there who are homophobes.

    1. And of course I realise that someone with a mental illness may also be a homophobe which could result in them exhibiting behaviour that is homophobic, but their homophobia in itself is not the mental illness.

    2. Exactly. This is what I was trying to articulate.

      1. David Myers 19 Apr 2012, 7:14am

        It is up to the courts and the psychiatrists to parse out whether his actions were the result of his mental illness or his conditioned hate. If the former he will probably be determined to not have the ability to distinquish wrong from right (“diminished capacitance”). If the later he will be found guilty of homophobia and murder. He could also be found guilty of manslaughter.

  12. David Myers 19 Apr 2012, 7:16am

    It is up to the courts and the psychiatrists to parse out whether his actions were the result of his mental illness or his conditioned hate. If the former he will probably be determined to not have the ability to distinquish wrong from right (“diminished capacitance”). If the later he will be found guilty of homophobia and or he could instead be found guilty of manslaughter.

    1. Absolutely.

  13. I’ve been searching the internet for this story and it’s amazing how little attention outside of canada it’s getting. It’s virtually been ignored in the US by even the gay media and with the excpetion of Pink News, no one outside of Canada is covering the story. I can’t imagine who different the coverage would be had this crime occurred in the US.

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