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Stuart Walker’s Horrific Death

Posted on the 25 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

Stuart Walker’s horrific death: Was it a homophobic attack, and why was the media response so slow?

RIP Stuart Walker

Stuart Walker was found dead at the roadside in Cumnock, Ayrshire, the Associated Press reported. Walker was reportedly burned and beaten in the process of an “extremely violent” attack. Thousands of tributes have appeared online, while the local community is said to be shocked. The gruesome nature of the killing, and Walker’s sexuality, has lead to many to question whether the attack was motivated by homophobia, while there was a Twitter outcry after many major news outlets failed to give the story the attention the Twitterati felt it deserved.

Homophobic? Many headlines focussed on Walker’s homosexuality. The Sun’s headline labelled Stuart Walker a “gay hate victim”, while The Mirror branded the attack a “gay slaying” and The Independent asked if this was “the UK’s worst anti-gay hate crime.”Detective Inspector John Hogg acknowledged the speculation surrounding the crime, but said, “At this time we have nothing to indicate that this is a homophobic crime.” He did, however, add that investigators are keeping an “open mind on any possible motive for this terrible crime.”

Acceptance is a long way off. Liam Murphy, blogging for gay interest magazine Different Scene, warned that this was a sign of prevailing homophobia, regardless of whether or not the actual attack was a hate crime. If the crime was motivated by hatred or homophobia, the problem is clear, but even if it was not a gay hate crime, Murphy felt that we must address “how ready the press were to lead with the assumption of a homophobic attack”.

“Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that full acceptance of homosexuality in society is a good galaxy away off and in a month where David Cameron has been finally moving towards the legalisation of gay marriage, this represents an encouraging step forward and a huge horrific leap backwards”, said Murphy.

Not headline news? Following the announcement of Walker’s death, a twitter campaign erupted to publicise the news, in outcry against the lack of national media coverage. Journalist Patrick Strud tweeted “Right, let’s get Stuart Walker – the gay man burned alive and murdered yesterday – trending so newspapers take notice. #RIPStuartWalker”. The twitter community duly responded to his calls for action, with #RIPStuartWalker trending on Twitter for much of Monday, with many asking “How is this not headline news??

Here is a video tribute made by a friend of Walker, remembering a much loved man:

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