On Friday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office filed charges against a man for allegedly killing his son because he was gay.
“Shehada Khalil Issa faces a charge of premeditated murder in the death of Amir Issa outside the family home in the North Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles on Tuesday,” USA Today reported. “Prosecutors allege that Shehada Issa had previously threatened to kill his son (Amir Issa) because he was gay.”
Khalil Issa’s wife was also found dead on the scene. The case is being considered a hate crime.
“Shehada Khalil Issa faces one count of willful, deliberate and premeditated murder,” the District Attorney’s office said in a release. “It is also alleged that the murder was committed because of the victim’s sexual orientation and because of the defendant's perception of that status and the victim’s association with a person and a group of that status.”
While the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009 was a turning point in prosecuting hate crimes based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of a victim of violent crime under federal law, state hate crime laws vary. Fortunately, California’s hate crime law addresses bias-motivated crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
LGBT people suffer disproportionate levels of harassment and physical violence. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs tracked 1359 incidents of hate violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors in 2014, almost half of which were against gay men. Gay male survivors were more than twice as likely as other survivors to experience physical violence, 1.5 times as likely to be attacked in public and 1.8 times as likely to be injured. Just last month, HRC reported on a vicious hate crime in Georgia against two men.
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