First Liverpool Pride to remember murdered gay teen Michael Causer

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Liverpool’s first Pride celebration is to hold a vigil next week to remember Michael Causer, the gay teenager who was murdered in the city two years ago.

Michael, an 18-year-old hairdresser, died in hospital in August 2008 after being punched and kicked.

Although a witness testified that anti-gay abuse was shouted while Michael was attacked, a judge said the killing had not been motivated by homophobia.

James O’Connor was jailed for a minimum of 11 years for his murder.

Although the attack was not treated as homophobic, Michael’s mother Marie Causer has since become a campaigner against hate crime.

Monday’s event will launch the Michael Causer Foundation, which will assist vulnerable LGBT young people from the north-west by providing safe accommodation for those who are homeless or at risk.

The event takes place at Exchange Flags, behind the Town Hall, in Liverpool city centre and starts at 7.30pm.

Speakers will include two of Michael’s friends, while Thomas Downey-Parkes will speak about the homophobic attack on his civil partner James, then James Parkes, in November last year in Liverpool’s gay quarter.

Mrs Causer said: “I want the money people have donated in Michael’s memory to be used to help young people. These youngsters need somewhere to go where they feel safe and are surrounded by people who have gone through a similar experience.”

Mrs Causer hopes to help young people aged 15-25.

“I did not want a stone or a plaque to be put up in his memory. I wanted to do something worth doing and I am very lucky to have the support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community behind me,” she added.

Liverpool LGBT Network chairman Tommy McIlravey said: “Marie has become a person the LGBT community feels they can talk to and she understands and listens to their concerns. When she told me of her idea, we knew we had to make it happen because there is an urgent need in Liverpool for this kind of housing.”

Liverpool has held gay arts and culture festivals in the past few years but this year’s event will be the city’s first Pride celebration. The date was chosen to be close to the anniversary of Michael’s death.

The Pride festival itself begins next week with a march through the city centre on Saturday.