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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, August 14, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesLove – Don’t Hate

Love – Don’t Hate

On behalf of The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council (DVSAC), I wish to commend the 30th Legislature of the Virgin Islands for their positive response to Bill No. 30-0280 – The Hate-Motivated Crimes Act which offers ‘enhanced penalty’ for crimes that are committed on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. While it is unfortunate that our laws have to provide categorical specifications as opposed to simply stating that ‘crime of any kind’ is simply unacceptable, inexcusable and unnecessary, it can still be recognized that the Bill is a stepping stone for further legislation.
In regards to crimes against sexual orientation and gender identity particularly, however, the Bill truly makes a statement about members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community: they deserve protection too! Protection for LGBTQ is not a ‘sex’, ‘traditional values’ or ‘religious’ issue but simply a human rights issue. The business of a responsible civilian, and especially law makers, is not one of casting judgment, establishing personal values for others or ‘being bothered’ by sexual preferences; rather, it is one of respecting the safe choices of fellow human beings (‘safe choices’ referring to those which do not criminalize and utilize force), ensuring safety and preserving the right to a just and quality life for all. For this reason, DVSAC takes great pride in vocalizing support for the Hate-Motivated Crimes Act. With that said, however, there are other factors to consider in the prevention of Hate Crimes altogether: speech and attitudes.
The United States is falling in the minority of establishing Hate Speech legislation which is being adapted by countries such as Germany, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Canada and Mexico – a decision which has its pros and cons. Regardless of the position one takes in regards to this, however, it is important to note that ‘Freedom of Speech’ has allowed for an open forum in which individuals and organized groups can maliciously attack the character, sexual preferences, moral validity and un/traditional perspectives of LGBTQ members and other minority groups. With the rise of social media exploitation, cyber bullying and hate speech has also increased and in order to reduce hate crimes, we must stop ‘hate speech’ which serves as a precursor to poor attitudes, poor thought processes and ultimately – poor actions. Therefore, while the Virgin Islands has taken the first step to establish legislation against hate crimes, the minimal repercussions for these crimes coupled with the inability to address speech (as the Bill does not address expressive conduct) does not speak in favor of prioritizing the demise that members of the LGBTQ community within our territories endure. As such, more detailed language and heightened consequences for hate crime perpetrators is strongly supported as well.
In closing, ‘Healthy Relationships’ is one of the messages that The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council wishes to promote. It is our desire to increase love and respect in our communities – no matter what – and we hope that your desire is the same. Each new year is an opportunity to release the ‘old’ and embrace the ‘new’ and in 2014 we hope that our community can exist beyond anger, judgment, control, misunderstanding and all other characteristics which detract from our progression as a people and as a community. Instead, it is our hope that we can employ those positive characteristics which will encourage understanding, cultivate acceptance and foster a more peaceful and progressive Virgin Islands in 2014.
Editor’s note: Khnuma Simmonds-Esannason is the executive director of the Virgin Islands Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council.

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On behalf of The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council (DVSAC), I wish to commend the 30th Legislature of the Virgin Islands for their positive response to Bill No. 30-0280 – The Hate-Motivated Crimes Act which offers ‘enhanced penalty’ for crimes that are committed on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. While it is unfortunate that our laws have to provide categorical specifications as opposed to simply stating that ‘crime of any kind’ is simply unacceptable, inexcusable and unnecessary, it can still be recognized that the Bill is a stepping stone for further legislation.
In regards to crimes against sexual orientation and gender identity particularly, however, the Bill truly makes a statement about members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community: they deserve protection too! Protection for LGBTQ is not a ‘sex’, ‘traditional values’ or ‘religious’ issue but simply a human rights issue. The business of a responsible civilian, and especially law makers, is not one of casting judgment, establishing personal values for others or ‘being bothered’ by sexual preferences; rather, it is one of respecting the safe choices of fellow human beings (‘safe choices’ referring to those which do not criminalize and utilize force), ensuring safety and preserving the right to a just and quality life for all. For this reason, DVSAC takes great pride in vocalizing support for the Hate-Motivated Crimes Act. With that said, however, there are other factors to consider in the prevention of Hate Crimes altogether: speech and attitudes.
The United States is falling in the minority of establishing Hate Speech legislation which is being adapted by countries such as Germany, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Canada and Mexico – a decision which has its pros and cons. Regardless of the position one takes in regards to this, however, it is important to note that ‘Freedom of Speech’ has allowed for an open forum in which individuals and organized groups can maliciously attack the character, sexual preferences, moral validity and un/traditional perspectives of LGBTQ members and other minority groups. With the rise of social media exploitation, cyber bullying and hate speech has also increased and in order to reduce hate crimes, we must stop ‘hate speech’ which serves as a precursor to poor attitudes, poor thought processes and ultimately – poor actions. Therefore, while the Virgin Islands has taken the first step to establish legislation against hate crimes, the minimal repercussions for these crimes coupled with the inability to address speech (as the Bill does not address expressive conduct) does not speak in favor of prioritizing the demise that members of the LGBTQ community within our territories endure. As such, more detailed language and heightened consequences for hate crime perpetrators is strongly supported as well.
In closing, ‘Healthy Relationships’ is one of the messages that The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council wishes to promote. It is our desire to increase love and respect in our communities – no matter what – and we hope that your desire is the same. Each new year is an opportunity to release the ‘old’ and embrace the ‘new’ and in 2014 we hope that our community can exist beyond anger, judgment, control, misunderstanding and all other characteristics which detract from our progression as a people and as a community. Instead, it is our hope that we can employ those positive characteristics which will encourage understanding, cultivate acceptance and foster a more peaceful and progressive Virgin Islands in 2014.
Editor’s note: Khnuma Simmonds-Esannason is the executive director of the Virgin Islands Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council.