In the early hours of Saturday morning the body of 28-year-old gay hotel manager Stuart Walker was found tied to a lamppost in the small town of Cumnock, Scotland.
Reports are that he had been ‘horrifically’ beaten and burned; police said it was not yet clear if he was dead when his body was set on fire.
He was last seen at 2:30 am after being out with friends, and his body was found at 5 am.
Local police say that they have not ruled out a homophobic motive for his murder.
“In terms of claims of his sexuality and lifestyle we are not ruling out any aspect of his life to try and identify why someone would want to kill him.”
A tribute Facebook page was set up on Sunday morning and many people who knew him have been leaving messages paying tribute to his good humor. A tribute video was also quickly produced by a friend.
Although a number of reports on social media early on Sunday pointed to the possible homophobic motive, newspapers were slow in covering this aspect and on BBC Scotland on Sunday night the murder was the fourth story — with no mention of the possible motive, as was also the case in other media coverage.
On Twitter, the well-known gay journalist Patrick Strudwick led efforts to draw media attention to the story. He suggested that the reportedly vicious nature of the violence immediately reminded him of past homophobic murders.
A lack of national attention to the 2008 homophobic murder of gay teenager Michael Causer in Liverpool was strongly criticized, particularly the BBC’s lack of interest. Causer’s murder did draw enormous local attention including a march attended by local leaders and the establishment of a foundation in his name, but almost all national media failed to cover it.
Hate crimes reported to police against gay people in Scotland have been reported to have risen almost fivefold in the past five years. A gay rights group, Stonewall Scotland, said that two thirds of Scottish LGBT people in a survey had been verbally abused in the past year, while a third had been physically attacked.
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