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Family calls attack on Michigan gay teen a ‘hate crime’

Friday, August 21, 2009
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Steven HarmonA 15-year-old Michigan boy says two other teenagers beat him because he is gay, and two advocacy groups spoke out this week against the beating.

The attack on Steven Harmon on August 13 is being called a hate crime by his family. Investigators say Steven was punched repeatedly by two teenagers in a parking lot of a Portage, MI apartment complex.

Recounting the incident Wednesday, Steven said he was called “faggot,” “queer” and other derogatory terms as the two boys struck him in the head and face about 20 times.

Officials from the Kalamazoo Alliance for Equality said they were “shocked and deeply saddened” by the attack. The Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center also spoke out against the attack.

Two boys, ages 15 and 16, have been charged as juveniles with aggravated assault in connection with the incident, Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Fink said. The older of the two pleaded guilty to the charge Tuesday in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Family Division and is being held in the county juvenile home until a September 14 dispositional hearing.

Police say the suspects may have targeted the boy for his sexual orientation, but  the suspects aren’t charged with a hate crime because the state’s ethnic-intimidation law doesn’t specifically address sexual orientation.

More on the story here from WMMT-TV.

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