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Gay Rights Activist, Raymond Taavel, Murdered in Halifax (VIDEO)

Gay Rights Activist, Raymond Taavel, Murdered in Halifax (VIDEO)

Early Tuesday morning, gay rights activist Raymond Taavel was murdered outside of Menz & Mollyz Bar, a gay bar in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Andre Noel Denny, a paranoid schizophrenic with a history of substance abuse and violent attacks, has been charged with beating Taavel to death (source: CBC and Chronicle Herald).

According to the National Post:

Officers were called to the 2000-block of Gottingen Street at about 2:40 a.m. where they found a 49-year-old man bleeding. He later died in the street.

“A witness … saw another man fleeing the area on foot,” Const. Palmeter told the National Post.

Police dogs were able to track down the 32-year-old man, who was hiding in a nearby alley.

Police say it is too early to know whether the murder was a hate crime, but witnesses say that Denny used a homophobic slur during the attack.

According to the Globe and Mail, Taavel was a well-known figure in the tight-knit Halifax gay community.

Friends said he was born June 9, 1962, and grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. After moving to Halifax, he quickly became a leading figure in the local LGBT community, becoming co-chair of Pride and volunteering with several other groups. Mr. Taavel worked for several years at Wayves, an LGBT magazine, as a writer and editor. Most recently, he was the assistant circulation manager of the Buddhist magazine Shambala Sun.

A memorial has been set up outside the Menz Bar and hundreds of people took part in a vigil to mourn Taavel’s death on Tuesday evening.  Barry Boyce, who worked with Raymond Taavel at Shambhala Sun for 13 years, spoke at the vigil. He shared some memories about Taavel and concluded by saying that what impressed him the most was that he was a passionate activist without anger.

A facebook page called Rainbow in Your Window for Raymond Taavel calls on people to “place a rainbow in your window to show solidarity for Raymond and others like him who still suffer from the senseless abuse and violence which should have disappeared long ago.” Many members have changed their “virtual” window (i.e. their profile picture) into a rainbow in a show of support for Raymond. Floyd Blaikie wrote a tumblr post explaining why Rainbows for Raymond is different from other “armchair activism”:

I turn my nose up at armchair activism as much as the next person, but this feels different, somehow. This doesn’t feel like just another symbolic gesture. This is a reminder that despite our hurt, our fear, and the hopelessness that we might feel after this horrific event, there are still a lot of people out there who love us and don’t want us to be afraid. So go ahead and change your Facebook picture in honour of Raymond, non-armchair-activists. This time, it does something. It says, “you are safe with me.”

Taavel’s senseless death is a great loss for Halifax, for the LGBT community, and for compassionate activists everywhere.

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Image credit: stigeredoo on flickr

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10:28AM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

Patrick F. “Maureen MacDonald NEVER made such a statement “

It is worth quoting from the Hansard regarding the debate in the Nova Scotia Assembly - Fourth Session Wednesday, April 18, 2012:

Honourable Maureen MacDonald NDP:
“This matter is very complex. It is complex because we're not dealing with people in custody; we're dealing with patients in a hospital. Their care falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health and Wellness when they are patients in the forensic hospital, when they have been found by the board to be not criminally responsible and they, in fact, have had their offences - they have been discharged, with certain conditions..... Mr. Speaker, what I would say is this: I want members to be mindful that while I know this is of paramount concern to us all, we have to continue to remember that the individuals who are in this facility are patients. They are patients in a health care setting, receiving treatment. Those decisions have been made by a board that has information in front of it that I don't have and that members here don't have”

10:28AM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

Kellyanne M. “I thought that this is the alternative to prison for mentally ill people”

It is (at least in the UK). To describe someone committed to a forensic hospital is not the same as admitting a person to a general hospital. It would be disingenuous to simply describe a resident of the former as simply a 'patient’. Whatever the semantics used however, no one convicted of a crime involving violence should be released without conditions. Those involved with assessing and advising on treatment (which is part of my own job) have a dual responsibility, first, to the patient and then to society.

4:49AM PDT on Aug 26, 2012

In some countries, where the authoroties care more of the majority of unprotected people, they make sure that dangerous individuals are kept track of. In the other countries, the rights of murderers, rapists and arsonists are worth more than the innocent victims that are unfortunate enough to run into any of those Government protected wrong-doewrs.

1:21PM PDT on May 14, 2012

1:19PM PDT on May 14, 2012

No, I did not make it up. I did hear this on the NEWS95 radio station here in Halifax. I cannot find a link either, but I assure you I was not lying. Not that you care since you seem to be incensed about this for some reason.

9:50AM PDT on May 11, 2012

Kellyanne M. Obviously I am more informed, Maureen MacDonald NEVER said anything of the sort, you just made that up so YES you are a liar. Why don't you send me a link, ANY link that shows where she said such a callous thing. Of course you won't because I spent a lot of time searching for it and it just does not exist.

8:59PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

Wow, Patrick F, nice vicious personal attack. The post I made was based on the numerous times I heard the report on the news radio station here in Halifax, sound bites and all. Since I don't know Maureen from a hole in the ground what possible motive could I have to defame her? I assure you I am neither a liar or a coward. But since I live in the city where the murder took place, and you are almost 6000 miles away, I guess you must be much more informed tan I am.

3:10PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

Kellyanne M. So, are you proud of yourself for spreading lies? You are disgusting! Maureen MacDonald NEVER made such a statement nor would she ever sink as low as YOU. No profile either, not surprising hiding like a coward behind some anonymity.

2:19PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

Kellyanne M. Where did you see those comments by Maureen MacDonald?

10:34PM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

How extremely sad that this has happened: My heartfelt condolences. Not unfamiliar to Halifax, being a well travelled Canadian now living in Sweden, it is unfortunate that a prevalent mentality of racism and homophobia are so well exercised there. Nova Scotia it is time - so rich in history - to elevate this important beautiful province - above and beyond ignorance. Be good to each other, good people.

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