On April 11 and 12, 2022, Ireland was shaken by news of the violent murders of Michael Snee and Aidan Moffitt in Sligo. As well as impacting Michael and Aidan’s families, friends and local community, the tragedies bore a massive weight on LGBTQ+ people as it emerged that the assailant had targeted the men through a dating app in suspected hate attacks.
In the week following the murders, the country mourned the loss of the two men, with over 30 vigils taking place in villages, towns and cities. Many of the gatherings were organised by groups and individuals connected to the LGBTQ+ community, but despite this, they were attended by all sectors of society in what appeared to be a collective show of solidarity.
Among the tributes was a particularly moving article by LGBTQ+ rights activist Izzy Kamikaze. In the piece, she wrote, “The loss of Michael and Aidan to their closest people is something nobody can understand. All we can do is stand with them in grief. The grief that a town or a community feels when something horrific happens is different but still very real.
“Sligo mourns because these deaths make people question the peace and safety of their hometown. They have to explain to their children now that hate exists. The LGBTQ+ community mourns also because the threat of violence is never very far away from us. We worry about what might happen when one of us is alone & ends up in the wrong company. Sadly, that worry is not new,” she continued.
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The Sligo murders had an added poignancy for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community, as 2022 marked the 40th anniversary of four other murders involving queer men, occurring in 1982, one of the most violent years on record for the Irish community and a seminal moment in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.
Despite this 40 year gap and a massive improvement in protective legislation such as decriminalisation and marriage equality, the Sligo attacks contributed to making 2022 the most violent year for LGBTQ+ people in Europe in over a decade.
Currently, Ireland has no Hate Crime legislation in place; however, on November 1, 2022, a new ‘Prohibition of Incitement to Violence or Hatred’ Bill was presented to the Dáil. The Bill, which is awaiting the fourth phase of consideration by TDs, would prohibit crimes based on protected characteristics such as race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
On April 14, 2022, a 22 year-old Sligo resident, Yousef Palani, was arrested and charged with two counts of murder and one charge of assault causing harm for an earlier attack on Anthony Burke. The assault charge was upgraded to attempted murder on September 15, 2022. Since first being charged, Palani has been detained in custody to await a trial scheduled for November 13, 2023.
GCN would like to renew condolences to the family and friends of Michael Snee and Aidain Moffitt and everybody affected by this senseless violence.
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