Trayvon Martin

Over 30 LGBT rights groups in America have joined the chorus of voices calling for justice in the controversial killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The high school student was shot dead by George Zimmerman (29), a neighbourhood watch coordinator, in February 2012, in Sanford, Florida after the older man called police to say that Martin was behaving suspiciously.

Zimmerman claimed that he was acting in self defence when he was allegedly attacked by Martin, although critics have pointed out that the teen was unarmed and that there was no evidence that he had been doing anything illegal.

In the face of claims that the killing was racially motivated and that Martin was targeted as a possible criminal because he was black, Zimmerman was acquitted of murder by a jury on Saturday.

The verdict was met with anger and disbelief by many in the African American community, with protests being held in a number of cities against the outcome of the court case.

In an open letter, over 30 LGBT rights groups led by the National Black Justice Coalition and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, expressed their solidarity with Martin’s family and friends “as they continue to fight for justice, civil rights and closure”.

The groups stated that: “We represent organisations with diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender constituencies. Our community has been targets of bigotry, bias, profiling and violence. We have experienced the heart-breaking despair of young people targeted for who they are, who they are presumed to be, or who they love.”

“Trayvon Martin deserves justice and his civil rights. We support the organisations and community leaders who are urging the federal government to explore every option to ensure that justice is served for Trayvon and that his civil rights are honoured and respected,” said the groups.

They added that “every person, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, must be able to walk the streets without fear for their safety”.

Organisations that signed the letter include the American Civil Liberties Union, GLAAD, Harvey Milk Foundation, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, PFLAG National and The Trevor Project.

The US federal government has indicated that it will continue to investigate Martin’s killing and may file civil rights charges against Zimmerman.

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