Over this weekend I have been sickened to hear of the barbaric murder of a young man, Stuart Walker. According to press reports, this young man was beaten, tied to a pole and set on fire. The reason why is as yet unclear, but, there are many from his Ayrshire community who believe that he was targeted because of his sexuality.
My heartfelt sympathies go out to his family and many friends; they have lost, by all accounts, a lovely young guy. Our society has lost an honest, hard working young man.
The facts surrounding his death are still being investigated by the police but if the many rumours which are being put out on many social media sites are to be believed this young guy was murdered because he was Gay.
I have tried to work through my own emotions of anger and sadness but I cannot get away from the emotion of anger. Anger that a precious life has been taken in such a barbaric way, anger that his family have lost their son and anger that in the 21st Century we still have a situation when those who choose to live their life in a certain way can have their life ended in such a way.
There are many who would argue that the LGBT community have reached their goal, that they are now, in the main, accepted by society as a whole! How can this be the case when we have the death of Stuart, when a recent report states that we have seen a 5 fold increase in the reporting of homophobic attacks in Scotland over recent years and when certain press outlets and religious organisations still think it is ok to spout homophobic language?
I would argue that as a society we have a very long way to go, especially if you live in certain parts of our country. Many a young person has left their local communities because of their difference, many have become homeless in the big cities and many are living without the love and support of their families, all because they have chosen an alternative lifestyle.
All of our main political parties would state that they support the human rights of LGBT people to receive equal rights but how many of them are prepared to fight for the LGBT community at a grass roots level? What is being done to ensure that homophobic bullying has no place in our schools? The truth is that many schools do not allow LGBT youth organisation over the front door!
Until we accept that homophobia is alive and striving in Scotland we will continue to read about verbal attacks, beatings and murder of our young folk.
Scotland should be ashamed of what happened this weekend and as a nation we need to urgently address the reasons behind this murder.
I hope that in the future we will look back in anger but with pride that this young man’s death became a catalyst the tide turning in our attitudes. Do not let his death be in vain!

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