Police were investigating the alleged assault of a gay rights activist at a Jackson Heights bar earlier this month as a hate crime, although no arrests had been made in the incident.
Tarlach MacNiallais, 47, a spokesman for the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, went to Guadalajara De Noche, a restaurant and bar on Roosevelt Avenue, Dec. 5 with his partner and his partner’s brothers, who are Latino, he told the Irish Voice newspaper.
When he and his partner got up to dance, a bar employee told him he had to stop and that the establishment was not a gay bar, the Irish Voice said.
MacNiallais said he told the man he and his partner had as much right to dance as anyone else, and shortly afterward two bouncers grabbed him, slammed him against a wall and started punching and kicking him. At one point he was hit over the head with a chair, the Irish paper said.
Police were called, but no arrests were made at the scene. MacNiallais refused medical attention, a police source said.
The 115th Precinct’s Hate Crimes squad was still investigating the case, the source said, noting the altercation may have occurred because the bar’s owners did not want dancers visible from the window because they were operating an illegal cabaret.
Police have since issued summonses to the bar for allowing dancing without a cabaret license and serving alcohol to minors, the source said.
MacNiallais left for Ireland after the incident to celebrate his sister’s birthday. He was not expected to return until after press time Tuesday.
City Councilman-elect Daniel Dromm, one of the first openly gay councilmen to represent Queens, worried the incident would be construed as part of a rift between the LGBT community and the Latino community in Jackson Heights.
“The LGBT and Latino community have lived virtually in peace in the neighborhood, side by side, for many, many years,” he said. “In fact, when Julio Rivera was murdered [in 1990 by white supremacists], there was strong identification with the murder because Julio ... could have been killed because he was Latino or could have been killed because he was gay.”
MacNiallais also downplayed that possibility in his Irish Voice interview.
“This is not a gay community vs. the Mexican community story,” he told the paper. “My partner and my extended family are all Mexican. This story is about two thugs who attacked me because they didn’t like the fact that we were gay.”
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2009 Community News Group
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