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Rally Against Hate Held After Gay Couple Attacked

Photo Credit: KDKA

Photo Credit: KDKA

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LAWRENCEVILLE (KDKA) – Hundreds gathered in Lawrenceville Wednesday to rally against hate after a gay couple was attacked over the weekend.

Organizers of the “Stop the Hate” rally are hoping to promote awareness and safety for everyone.

Ben Stoviak and his boyfriend say they were leaving the Blue Moon Bar on Butler Street when a group of three men yelled homophobic slurs at them.

The three suspects approached Stoviak and one punched him in the face. As a result of the punch, he fell to the ground. He was then kicked in the face several times.

Pittsburgh Police have issued a summons for Vincent Happ of the North Hills and plan to charge him with simple assault for physically attacking both men.

The rally was organized by members of the LGBT community who say their sick of hearing about violence against people because of their sexual preference.
LGBT supporters, like Susan Hamlett, will be at the rally against hate tonight.

“That’s what it should be. Lawrenceville is a close knit community and I think it’s going to be awesome that people come out and rally for them,” Hamlett says.

Rally organizer Eli Kuti believes raising awareness of such attacks is extremely important.

“It’s strength in numbers. We’re not going to put up with this anymore. This is unacceptable,” Kuti says.

That support is appreciated inside the Blue Moon Bar, a known gay bar, where Stoviak says they left right before the strangers punched and kicked them.

Some of the bar’s patrons, like Janet Granite, helped organize tonight’s rally.

“I’m very proud that our community comes together in times of crisis, we’re close knit and we come to each other’s aid,” Granite says.

A gay advocacy group has contacted the local FBI, and the District Attorney’s office, in hopes of getting the incident classified as a hate crime.

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