Fliers implying gays and lesbians “deserve to die” appeared in a New York City neighborhood, shocking residents and the area’s gay city councilman, reports TV station WPIX.
Councilman Daniel Dromm of Jackson Heights, one of several city representatives who are out, called the notes which appeared under apartment doors in both English and Spanish “deplorable and disgusting,” in an interview with the Jackson Heights Post. “It’s wrong and needs to be condemned,” he added.
He told the Queens Times Ledger that he worried about the impact the note could have on children just coming out: "I can’t help but think maybe a child lives in the home of the person that is distributing these fliers. What if the child is at the stage where he or she is questioning their own sexuality and they’d see this flier. What type of impact could that have? That could be devastating for that child.”
The notes, which reportedly appeared in late August, featured an image of a rainbow flag and cite the biblical passage Romans 1:18:32 to imply same-sex relationships are unnatural, placing the phrase "those who practice such things deserve to die" in bold, according to an image from Twitter user Andrès Duque.
The flier comes just weeks before Pope Francis is set to visit the United States, including time in New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. The White House has invited gay Catholic Aaron Jay Ledesma, 23, of Houston to meet with the pope during his visit to Washington, reports Fusion. Ledesma has been blogging about his faith and plans to bring his boyfriend to the event. He called the invitation "in a way a miracle," according to Fusion.
The pope has at times using more accepting rhetoric for gays and lesbians, while not extending that posture to transgender people. Pope Francis said “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?”
The neighborhood of Jackson Heights, where the hate-filled missive showed up, is in the borough of Queens, one of the most diverse areas in the United States. It is home to an annual gay pride parade as well as Queens Pride House, an LGBT community organization.
Police are trying to determine who is responsible for distributing the fliers, and the incident may be perused as a hate crime, according to WPIX.