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BPD: Local Pastor calling for LGBTQ people to be 'put to death' is not hate speech under Idaho Law

Boise Police Department
Posted at 5:22 PM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 19:24:09-04

BOISE, Idaho  — The Boise Police Department is aware of a Boise pastor's sermon calling for LGBTQ people to "be put to death", but says it does not meet the legal requirement for criminal hate speech or malicious harassment.

In a May sermon, Pastor Joe Jones of Shield of Faith Baptist Church in Boise told his congregation "put all queers to death."

"When they die that stops the pedophilia," Jones said.

Idaho Code for Malicious Harassment is defined as "It shall be unlawful for any person, maliciously and with the specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin."

Idaho Code does not include Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.

Idaho Democratic Lawmakers like Sen. Melissa Wintrow and Rep. John McCrostie have tried during multiple legislative sessions to add Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to Idaho Law, but each time could not get a hearing.

Related: Add the Words legislation proposed as 'personal bill' in its 14th consecutive attempt at passing

"The fourteenth legislative session that Idahoans have urged legislators to update the Idaho Human Rights Act to include protection from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation for all; including gay and transgender people," according to the group Add the Words Idaho's website.

"Any form of hateful speech, whether verbal, written, or symbolic, against the LGBTQ+ community is inconsistent with the city’s mission of creating city for everyone," said Haley Willams, a spokesperson for the Boise Police Department. "The Boise Police Department will always protect someone regardless of their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, or sexual orientation and gender identity."

INCREASING ANTI-LGBTQ RHETORIC IN IDAHO

Over the past few months, Anti LGBTQ rhetoric has been increasing in the Gem State. Last legislative session a bill that would criminalize librarians in their official capacity did not move forward, but during hearings, LGBTQ literature was called explicit and pornographic. Some of these books were banned by the Nampa School District.

Last Legislative session the Idaho House of Representatives passed a bill that would make it a felony for parents and medical providers to seek or perform gender-affirming treatment for trans youth. The bill did not make it to the Senate floor.

Related: Bill on gender reassignment for minors killed by Idaho Senate

Along with Pastor Jones calling for LGBTQ people to be killed, The Associated Press reported North Idaho Lawmaker Rep. Heather Scott, told an audience that drag queens and other LGBTQ supporters are waging “a war of perversion against our children." Several Republican lawmakers across the country are actively trying to write legislation banning kids from Drag performances.

Related: Right-wing extremists amp up anti-LGBTQ rhetoric online

For the second year Pride flags were destroyed or stolen from Harrison Blvd as part of a Pride Month display between Boise Pride and the North End Neighborhood Association. Boise Police are still investigating.

Saturday, 31 men tied with the known White Supremacy group "Patriot Front" were arrested for conspiracy to riot near a Pride in the Park event in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Armed protesters were already present at the event.

SOLIDARITY WITH IDAHO'S LGBTQ COMMUNITY

After the recent destruction of pride flags in Boise's North end, an anonymous donor paid for all of the pride flags to be replaced. The Boise City Council released a joint statement supporting Boise's LGBTQ community.

Following the arrests of white nationalists in Coeur d'Alene, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean tweeted her support for LGBTQ people.

Vice President Kamala Harris referred to Idaho's LGBTQ community during a speech at Capital Pride Festival in Washington D.C. Sunday.

"No one should fear going to a nightclub for fear that a terrorist might try to take them down. No one should fear going to a Pride celebration because of a white supremacist. No one should fear loving who they love," said Harris.

Related: Biden promotes LGBTQ equality with executive order during Pride Month

Boise Police also showing solidarity "The Boise Police Department has a LGBTQ+ Liaison Officer who works to support, connect and build trust within the LGBTQ+ community. In the last week, we have had many conversations with leaders in the LGBTQ+ community and with the Boise Pride Festival to review current concerns and stand ready to support them at events or in-person as needed," said Williams.

Gov. Brad Little also reacted to the arrests in Coeur d'Alene, but did not immediately show support for LGBTQ Idahoans or call out white supremacy groups like Patriot Front, rather focusing on free speech and peaceful protests.

On June 17, Little issued an extended statement denouncing "racial supremacy" while calling on Idahoans to "show respect, love, and compassion for our neighbors."

Here is his full extended statement.

Gov. Brad Little extended statement on Patriot Front arrests