Senator Barack Obama on Monday described as “unacceptable” the lack of federal legislation in the United States to address the problem of ‘hate crime’.

In a statement issued on the tenth anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, who was violently slaughtered because he was gay, Senator Obama, who is running for the US Presidency as the Democratic Party candidate, said that the failure of Congress to enact legislation was “a failure to deliver justice” to victims of hate crimes.

“Today, we pause to remember the heartbreaking and senseless murder of Matthew Shepard,” the Senator said in his statement.

“A freshman at the University of Wyoming, Matthew was a young man committed to fighting for equality and changing the world around him.

“He was tragically taken from us far too early, an innocent victim of an abhorrent hate crime, and never had the chance to see his dreams realised.

“In the ten years since Matthew’s passing, Congress has repeatedly and unacceptably failed to enact a federal hate crimes law that would protect all LGBT Americans.

“That’s not just a failure to honour Matthew’s memory; it’s a failure to deliver justice for all who have been victimised by hate crimes, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.

“All Americans deserve to live their lives free of fear, and as Americans, it is our moral obligation to stand up against bigotry and strive for equality for all.

“Today, Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Matthew’s parents, Judy and Dennis, and to all whose lives have been touched by unconscionable violence.”

Senator Obama’s opponent, Senator John McCain, did not refer to Matthew Shepard on the tenth anniversary of the young college student’s death.

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