Friday, December 23, 2005

Mother of slain soldier accuses military of ignoring gay attacks & homophobia

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According to an article published by News, the mother of a gay soldier who was killed in a homophobic attack is accusing the Government and military of ignoring homophobia and anti-gay harassment and abuse within its ranks. Her attack on the Government comes after another gay soldier in Arizona asked for a discharge after being attacked and harassed multiple times (see earlier post). According to the article:
"My husband Wally and I are outraged to learn that yet another Army Private has been the target of harassment and violence at the hands of a fellow soldier," Patricia Kutteles, mother of slain Army Private First Class Barry Winchell said on Friday.
Kutteles' son was murdered in 1999 by fellow soldiers who perceived him as being gay after he started dating a pre-op transsexual. Amry Private First Class Barry Winchell was beaten to death with a bat while in his barracks. Two soldiers are currently serving time in prison for the attack. PFC Winchell's attack and murder sparked controversy within the military, which promised in 2000 to take seriously the issue of homophobia and to crack down on the harassment of gay soldiers, or those who were perceived as being gay. According to the article:
In 2000, the Pentagon announced it would take concrete steps to curb anti-gay harassment in our military and to hold accountable those who harass and condone harassment. "Nearly six years later, Pentagon leaders have failed to keep their promise," said Kutteles. "The time has come for them to do just that, or for Congress to hold them accountable if they do not." In a statement released Friday Kutteles said the attack on Private Lawson and the Pentagon's failure to hold the perpetrators responsible were inexcusable. "'Don't ask, don't tell' impacts every service member – gay and straight alike – by creating a weapon to end careers and endanger service members through accusations, finger-pointing and rumor." she said. "Unless Pentagon leaders finally get a clue and lead the way in combating harassment and discrimination, I fear that attacks like these will continue to make headlines."
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