Hate crime against gays



These links may be restricted if you don’t have access to a database…..


Additional sources…..

·         Death in the High Desert: the Matthew Shepard Story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ntfe8oRling

·         Matthew’s mother on Ellen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dATmAqDTBHw


In democratic societies, the public trial is a pillar of the democratic principle of “transparency.”  Although most trials are public, only some become “popular.”   Reasons for their ‘popularity’ are varied, but generally we have argued in the course that popular trials engage the public’s sense of morality and/or imagination.  What engages is not simply the legal issues of a case, but the deeper symbolic or ideological issues that permeate, and are often positioned adversarially in, a popular trial. the Matthew Shepard murder trial in which Aaron James McKinney and Russell Arthur Henderson attempted to use the “homosexual panic defence.”  In this assignment, you are to identify and critically discuss the symbolic issues of one of the trials listed above that have engaged the public’s sense or morality and/or imagination

Key terms you can search when looking for sources to link to the topic:

Queer theory; sexuality studies; hate crime; heteronormativity and law; heteronormative violence; homophobia; homosexual panic defence; violence against LGBT people

Questions to get you started (you do not have to answer these in your paper):

·         What is the intention of a hate crime? 

·         What is the “gay panic defence” and why does it exist? What does it symbolize?

·         What threat do gay men pose to hegemonic masculinity and patriarchal society? How did this play into the defence’s strategies and why did it work on the jury? Please keep in mind that the judge would not allow the gay panic defence but the lawyers still made attempts to slide it into their lines of questioning without actually framing it as a defence therefore it would have had an impact on the jury’s decision. 

·         Why did Matthew’s story become very popular? Who took an interest in pushing for hate crime legislation after Matthew’s death? 

·         What did the defence lawyers argue about McKinney’s childhood? How did they use this to support their use of the gay panic defence?


What are the symbolic issues!

·         Discrimination, hate, and violence 


Thesis:  you can change it or add more to it but this is what i want the essay to be focused on.


The gruesome killing of Matthew Sheppard was widely seen as one of the worst anti gay hate crime in American history.  As the story of his death quickly spread, Matthew became a national symbol of violence against gays. Although the trail was not broadcast or televised, it caught the eyes of the public due to the fact this was the most violent act that had happened to a homosexual at the time. Matthew was brutally beaten and left to die tied to a fence. The horrifying and inhuman act is what triggered the public’s attention, weather they were for homosexuality or not. This essay will discuss the symbolic issues of discrimination, hate and violence that are evident in this case.


Sources: Length : 12 – 15 pages.  Usual essay format, that is, double-spaced, 12 pt font, one inch margins & the title page is not to be counted as page 1.  Number your pages..  The citation style may be APA or MLA as long as it is consistent.  If you are unsure how to cite properly & write up your works cited page, please consult a style manualAcademic sources: you must have at least 5 academic sources. Newspaper or magazine articles are NOT an academic source.

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