PHILADELPHIA: Lawyers For Mob Say Gay-Bashing Victims Started Fight

Via Penn Live:

NBC10 in Philadelphia reports that defense attorneys who represent some of the suspects claim one of the beating victims threw the first punch. In addition, those defense attorneys tell NBC10 more video exists that will paint a different picture of what happened. All this differs with the account of witnesses, the victims and police, who insist that the group of twenty-something males asked the two male victims if they were a couple. When the gay men told them they were, the group allegedly attacked the couple while screaming homophobic slurs at them, NBC10 reports. Members of the group allegedly punched and kicked the 27- and 28-year-old victims in the face, head and chest, while others stood by and watched, according to NBC10.

There will be no hate crime charges in the case thanks to a 2008 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling in a lawsuit brought by the anti-gay hate group Repent America. Via Philly Mag:

Given the reports that there were gay slurs used during the attack, we and others have been reporting this as a possible hate crime. Even the Philadelphia Police Department used the term “hate crime” in an early bulletin. But it turns out that the gay bashing was not a hate crime at all, at least not in Pennsylvania. In 2002, sexual orientation and gender identity were added to the Pennsylvania Constitution as protected classes under the state’s ethnic intimidation law, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court deemed that addition unconstitutional in 2008 after extreme-right Philly-based activist Michael Marcavage of Repent America filed suit against then-Governor Ed Rendell and others. These days, the law includes “malicious intention toward the race, color, religion or national origin,” but there’s no coverage if you are attacked for being gay. And even though the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office states in its online FAQ that a “hate crime has been committed” when an attack is because of “a victim’s real or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity,” the District Attorney has now confirmed that this attack is not, in fact, a hate crime, at least not legally speaking.

RELATED: In 2004 Michael Marcavage and other members of Repent America were arrested in Philadelphia and charged with hate crimes after crashing the OutFest pride festival. The charges were immediately dismissed as “having no merit” but the so-called Philadelphia 11 then filed the lawsuit which resulted in the overturn of Pennsylvania’s hate crimes statute. Marcavage has been arrested other times for similar actions.