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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lesbians Attacked in Hate Crime

A lesbian couple in Oshawa were brutally assaulted in front of their six-year-old son and his classmates on November 3rd by a stranger. Mark Scott, 43, also of Oshawa has been charged with two counts of assault causing bodily harm. He was released and is scheduled to appear in court on Dec 16. Police are also deciding whether to charge him with a hate crime.

CANADA - Anji Dimitriou and Jane Currie were picking up their three children up from Gordon B Attersley Elementary School when a fellow parent attacked them.

Currie says they had just parked their truck and Dimitriou had gotten out when she saw Mark Scott — who has verbally harassed them in the past — approaching.

"Out of the corner of my eye I saw this man whom we've had run-ins with in the past. He made a beeline straight for Anji. I can see him getting him angrier and angrier. He said to Anji, 'Which of you two men spoke to my kid? Fucking dyke lesbians.' I jump out and just as I come around he spits right in her face. She wiped the spit off and he punched her in the face and hit her again in the back of the head."

"She was yelling obscenities and another father tried to shoulder him out of the way. Then he smacks me. My cheek burst with the force of the impact. He's about 6'4" or 6'5" and 250 pounds and we're both about 5'2". His fist was probably half the size of my head."

"My face was bleeding profusely everywhere. All these children who had just finished school had to see all this blood. They were screaming, including my own son who was up close and personal. They were devastated, hysterical. His own child saw this."

Currie says their two daughters, ages six and seven, came out in time to see their parents' bloody faces. "They were terrified. They didn't know where to go."

Currie says Mark Scott was collecting his children and preparing to leave when the principal came out and told him to wait in her office until the police arrived.

"He said, 'Fine.' He didn't think he had done anything wrong."

Currie says she and Dimitriou were taken to the hospital and the man was arrested by Durham Regional police based on eyewitness testimony from teachers, students and parents present. "But the worst is the mental side and the children. We took them to see a therapist on the Wednesday."

"We have to show them every night how the alarm will go off," she says. "We went to Zellers and they didn't want to get out of the truck. 'What if he's in Zellers?' they asked. 'What if he comes back to the school and comes after us?'"

Dimitriou says the assault has also been devastating for other children at the school and parents. "The principal says he's done more damage than just beating us," she says. "Parents and students are terrified."

The Oshawa school has placed Mark Scott under a no-trespass order which requires him to stay 200 metres away from the school. The police have also obtained an order requiring him to stay 500 metres from Dimitriou and Currie.

Dimitriou says she and Currie have each had a previous encounter with the man, in which he has blocked their access to a parking spot and called them "fucking dykes." She says the man has also been verbally abusive to other parents, but that everybody has let it slide.

"Teachers know about him," she says. "Nobody wants to talk to him because he's a psycho. This is a town of soccer moms and nobody wants to open their mouths."

Sgt Paul McCurbin, the media relations officer for Durham regional police, says the police will ask the Crown attorney to approach the case as a hate crime.

"If the evidence shows that the only reason these two ladies were attacked was because of their gender or sexual orientation that evidence will come forward," he says. "We don't appreciate anybody being assaulted in our community. The police did what they're supposed to do, we arrested the bad guy."

But area residents say the police have been useless in helping to stop homophobic incidents in Durham region.

"My partner and I actually had to sell our house because we were being discriminated against so much," says Udana Muldoon, the chair of Durham Queer Parenting. "We had poo thrown at our house, water in our gas tank, we were called names all the time. The police officers said, 'If it's such a big deal, you should probably stay in your backyard."

Muldoon says she, her partner and their three-year-old are moving from Oshawa to a smaller town on the outskirts.

Peter Richtig, the executive director of the AIDS Committee of Durham Region, says the assault is not isolated. He says there have been homophobic assaults in the past.

"There have been other incidents, some even more violent. We have clients who have been forced to move out of the region, who have lost their housing after they were outed. Some have been outed by the police, some have ended up in psychiatric wards because of psychological harassment."

"Because of situations like this people are very closeted. They're afraid to be out."

"I'm angry," she says. "I just moved up here two years ago. I lived in Toronto my whole life. I never had anybody call me a dyke or make remarks to my children."

She says the couple is considering a civil suit against Mark Scott.

About Lesbianism and Feminism:

Lesbianism and Feminism

The Woman Identified Woman

1970s Lesbian Feminism

Big Dyke on Campus

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