General News

Matthew Shepard commemorated 22 years after his death

Rachel Badham October 15, 2020

Tributes poured in for Matthew Shepard on Monday 12 October which marked 22 years since he was murdered in Wyoming in 1998. 21-year-old openly gay Shepard had met up with friends to plan an LGBTQ+ awareness week at his university where he met Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney. The pair then captured Shepard and drove him away from the town where they tortured him and tied him to a fence, leaving him to die. He was found and hospitalised but eventually succumbed to his injuries.

During a police confession, McKinney said he just intended to only rob Shepard but then attacked him because he reportedly put his hand on McKinney’s leg during the car ride. Judges dismissed his ‘gay panic’ claim and the murder was ruled as a hate crime, with the BBC referring to the incident as ‘the murder that changed America’.

Biden tweeted in memory of Shepard

Many commemorated Shepard on social media, with LGBTQ+ organisation GLAAD sharing their sorrow at his death, and activist Billie Jean King saying LGBTQ+ rights ‘must be fought for’. US presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted in memory of Shepard and other victims of hate crimes, saying: “Today marks 22 years since Matthew Shepard passed away after a brutal anti-gay hate crime. Over two decades later, violence against LGBTQ+ Americans is at an all-time high. As president, I’ll strengthen our hate crimes laws and make clear that bigotry has no place in America.”