Gays Join Protest Against Verdict in Indian Student's Case

Washington, Mar 21 (IANS): Some members of the LGBT community have joined in protesting against the conviction of Indian American student Dharun Ravi, accused of spying on his gay roommate Tyler Clementi for a hate crime.

Ravi, a former Rutgers University student, was found guilty by a New Jersey jury of 15 counts including the hate crime of bias intimidation. He faces ten years in prison and deportation to India.

"The LGBT community is not of one mind regarding this matter," Toby Grace, editor of Out In Jersey, New Jersey's largest LGBT publication said in e-mail to IANS, referring to two editorials published in the magazine.

"Dharun Ravi is being railroaded," said Grace in a commentary. "That's a statement that is not going to go down well with a lot of activists," he said pointing out "The law holds us accountable for what we actually do - not what others may in turn make of it."

"Tyler Clementi's life is gone but Dahrun Ravi has a life too," he wrote. "Before all this happened, it was a life full of hope and promise. It is disproportionate and unjust that his life should be destroyed because of a single, ill-judged act that, in other circumstances, would have been dismissed as a minor peccadillo."

In another editorial the magazine said "Gay rights advocates are, by and large, applauding the verdict but should pause to reflect that the law is a sword with two edges."

"We are on a slippery slope here and we don't know where the bottom is but is unlikely to be any place we want to go," the editorial advised,

Bill Dobbs, a longtime gay activist recalled, "I went over to the Rutgers University campus when people were first absorbing the shock of Tyler Clement's suicide. At one candlelight vigil I carried a sign that read, 'Justice, not Vengeance.'"

"A group quickly formed on campus called Queering the Air which campaigned about conditions for LGBT students; we also became concerned that there was a rush to judge Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei (another student who watched the gay encounter with Ravi).

"Yes, there was outrage about the episode but there was also organizing to counter the high emotions - that's rare," he noted in an e-mail to IANS.

In an editorial, Newark Star-Ledger asserted "Dharun Ravi doesn't deserve prison in Rutgers spying case.

"What Dharun Ravi did was creepy and childish," it said. "But that's not enough to put him behind bars, in the company of rapists, muggers and killers."

Meanwhile a White House petition asking the Obama administration to "address the fact that media is driving Justice System's decisions" and "18 year old Rutgers student Dharun Ravi is NOT Biased," had gathered more than 3,000 signatures.

It must get 25,000 signatures within a month to get a White House response.


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