Forum For Equality is calling for the charges against Joseph Menard Jr. to be upgraded to hate crime status, following his alleged assault on four gay Lafayette men Sunday at the Grand 16.

Following an investigation into Sunday's altercation, the Lafayette Police only charged Menard with two counts of simple battery, despite reports by the arresting officer that show the alleged attack resulted from Menard's distaste for the sexuality of the four victims.

In a press release issued today, Forum For Equality, a Louisiana nonprofit that lobbies for the rights of the state's LGBT community, argues:

'All individuals, including all LGBT people, have the right to be safe and free from harassment and violence. To be attacked in a movie theater surrounded by families only adds to the severity of this attack. We are contacting the District Attorney, the US Department of Justice, and the FBI to make sure that the case is being handled with the utmost concern and attention,' said Sarah Jane Brady, Managing Director of Forum For Equality.

'From the information we have received, the actions and attacks by Joseph W. Menard Jr. constitute that of a Hate Crime under the law, and we will work to ensure that it is recognized as such,' said Robert J. Wilson, Vice-Chair of Forum For Equality Acadiana Chapter, 'Violence has been and continues to be a tool used to suppress the LGBT community and we will fight back against any oppression, by utilizing the laws that have been enacted to protect our constitutional rights.'

Click here for more on what went down Sunday, and here for a reaction by one victim to the incident and the overwhelming community support that has followed.

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