Gay activist target of hate mail
By ANDY PARKS firstname.lastname@example.org A LOCAL gay activist has been the target of anonymous death threats at his Lismore home.
Ben Cooper, 20, has received four letters since October 30, the latest on Monday.
One letter read: "I know where you live. If you don't stop carrying on with your AIDS activism it will be stopped for you."
Another threatened: "You are going to die at the hands of Jesus," and was signed "A Proud National voter and Christian."
Mr Cooper contacted the police on Tuesday and went to the media yesterday in an attempt to highlight the issue.
"It needs to be exposed. Any homophobia in the community needs to be exposed," he said.
Mr Cooper said when he received the first letter he was shocked and intimidated.
"I can't understand such extreme hatred. This area is known for being an alternative region and you just don't expect it," he said.
Since receiving the threats Mr Cooper says he has been more cautious and has not spent time outside his home unnecessarily.
"It has affected my social life to some extent, I feel like I'm looking over my shoulder all the time," he said.
Mr Cooper took the letters to the Lismore police station. He was told if he received another letter to put gloves on before handling it and to bring it to police for fingerprinting.
Mr Cooper says he has no idea who is writing the letters, but that he was probably being targeted because of his public profile as a gay activist in the past two years.
Last year, he organised a gay marriage ceremony in Spinks Park and in August this year was involved in a street march in support of gay marriage.
Mr Cooper also made comments in the media recently about Regeneration, a group based at the Lismore Baptist Church made up of a board of church ministers aiming to help gay people become heterosexual.
He claimed in an article in The Northern Star the group was using a US-based anti-gay website to recruit gay men and women to the group.
Mr Cooper said he knew of one other person who had received a similar threat in April this year, also in Lismore.