Tuesday’s hate crime rally in New York City (Pic: Chiu Ng / Out Impact)

New York City – the birthplace of the gay rights movement – has suffered a string of homophobic attacks, most recently a senseless murder.

On Monday night, hundreds of people held a candlelight vigil in memory of 32-year-old Mark Carson who was murdered in the early hours of Saturday morning in Greenwich Village.

According to the New York Times, Carson’s murderer argued with him, using homophobic slurs, before allegedly shooting him. Attempts to revive Carson failed.

Suspect Elliot Morales (33) ran away but was apprehended by police minutes later. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly told reporters that “This clearly looks to be a hate crime”.

The attack took place just blocks away from the Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 Stonewall Riots that publicly highlighted the struggle for gay rights and launched the LGBT political movement.

Carson’s murder was the fifth homophobic hate crime incident in the city this month alone. There have been 22 incidents this year, compared to 13 over the same period last year, revealed Kelly.

Murdered: Mark Carson

On Tuesday evening, thousands turned out for an anti-hate crime rally and march that was attended by the openly gay Speaker of the New York City Council Christine Quinn and Edie Windsor, who is challenging the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the Supreme Court.

Quinn, who is running for Mayor, said earlier in a statement: “I am horrified to learn that last night, a gay man was murdered in my district after being chased out of a Greenwich Village restaurant and assailed by homophobic slurs. I stand with all New Yorkers in condemning this attack.”

Also at the rally were Nick Porto and Kevin Atkins, a gay couple who were brutally attacked near Madison Square Garden after a basketball game on 5 May, apparently because of their sexual orientation.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin commented: “When an innocent person can be beaten or killed simply on the basis of their identity, something is profoundly sick and wrong. There’s not an LGBT person who didn’t hear about this horrendous murder and think: ‘that could have been me.’

“As long as discrimination remains a feature of this nation’s laws, as long as second class citizenship trickles down into our schools and our communities, these crimes and the terror they instil will never stop.”

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