A forum on hate crimes and anti-gay violence will be held in the Valley on Wednesday, with participation by Scottsdale and Phoenix leaders, police and political activists.
The event, titled “When is hate a crime? A community forum on anti-LGBT violence,” is expected to include a speech by Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and an explanation of how police investigate and communicate with the public about hate crimes, said Sam Holdren, field organizer for the gay rights group Equality Arizona.
Holdren said the forum was prompted by recent high-profile incidents in Scottsdale, particularly two separate attacks on gay men in the last several months. The forum’s purpose is to explore the impact of those incidents and to talk about how to deal with them, Holdren said.
“Without that dialogue, there’s just always going to be division,” he said.
Some gay rights groups have said there is a growing perception in the gay community that Scottsdale is unfriendly to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgendered because of the two attacks and two other recent incidents. The first attack was on two gay men outside a south Scottsdale steakhouse last December and the second was on a gay man outside a downtown bar in July.
In addition, Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross decided to alter a proclamation meant to honor the contributions of gay residents so much that the final product didn’t mention gays. And a local club owner decided to ban transgendered people from his downtown nightclub after female patrons complained about them using the women’s restroom and men harassed them in the men’s restroom.
Other participants at the forum are expected to include representatives from the Anti-Defamation League; the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona; the Human Rights Campaign; 1n10 ; Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; and the 1 Voice Community Center. Victims of anti-LGBT incidents are expected to tell their personal stories as well, Holdren said.
Manross and the Scottsdale City Council have been invited to the event. Manross will not be able to attend, however, because she’s chairing a Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Council meeting that night, said city spokesman Pat Dodds.
The Scottsdale Police Department will be represented by assistant police chief John Cocca, said Scottsdale public safety spokeswoman Shawn Sanders.
Reporter Donna Rossi of KPHO-TV (Channel 5) is scheduled to moderate the forum.
Hate crime forum
Where: Pulliam Auditorium, Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
When: 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Wednesday